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Written by Workers of the Federal Writers' Project of the 
Works Progress Administration for the State of Rhode Island 



Vfe ft ibrr*r #re Cambridge 





RHODE ISLAND is a conservative State that still sticks to its early 
designation, 'The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations/ 
It was the first of the thirteen Colonies to declare independence of Great 
Britain, and the last to ratify the Federal Constitution. It has a 'city* 
of forty-five square miles that contains dozens of small villages, but no 
metropolitan center; a city only a mile square with more than 25,000 
inhabitants; and a township of forty-nine square miles with a population 
of but 402. 

Although the 'Smallest State,' it lays claim to a greater number of 
historic sites and other points of interest than can be found in some of the 
largest States of the Union. Not all of these are dealt with in this book 
for the sake of brevity the editors have been obliged to omit mention of 
dozens of Early American houses, embankments thrown up to repel 
foreign invaders who never appeared, and many hillocks on which were 
erected beacon poles with kettles of tar to be burned when Indians or 
British threatened. They have striven to avoid the all too prevalent 
conception that American history stopped with the Revolution, or at 
best by 1800; and they have included here many points of interest which, 
although not now 'historic/ may well be considered so a century hence. 

The goal of those who have worked upon this book has been to present 
an adequate, accurate, and interesting picture of Rhode Island, past and 
present, in all its complex and changing aspects. Rhode Island's early 
settlers were probably the most varied group of religious non-conformists 
ever gathered in a colony, and its present population is racially one of 
the most diversified in the Union. In respect to scenic and recreational 
details, chief emphasis has been placed upon the coastal regions rather 
than the relatively uninteresting and sparsely populated inland area. 
In the group of ' background ' essays, local history and politics have been 
traced from Roger Williams to Governor Robert E. Quinn; industry 
from William Blackstone's apple orchard to the modern textile mills; 
transportation from Canonicus' canoe to the airplane; and so on through 
the list of other subjects dealt with. 

The book could not have been completed without the voluntary 
assistance of many loyal Rhode Islanders. The editors are especially 


indebted to the following, who have offered valuable advice and criti- 
cism: Prof. George E. Adams, Miss Edith R. Blanchard, Prof. Chelcie C. 
Bosland, Mr. Herbert O. Brigham, Prof. Charles W. Brown, Mr. William 
L. Bryant, Mr. John H. Cady, Mr. Howard M. Chapin, Prof. J. Franklin 
Collins, Miss Sallie Coy, Prof. S. Foster Damon, Mrs. Antoinette F. 
Downing, Dr. Basil E. Gilbert, Mr. John H. Greene, Mr. Burton K. 
Harris, Mr. Norman M. Isham, Mr. Charles Keller, Mr. Joseph J. 
Kirby, Dr. Stephen B. Luce, Mr. William Davis Miller, Mr. G. Andrews 
Moriarty, Mrs. Elizabeth A. Morse, Mr. Addison P. Munroe, Prof. 
Alonzo W. Quinn, Mr. Clarence E. Sherman, Miss Maud L. Stevens, Mr. 
Wilfred E. Stone, Mr. George B. Utter, Mr. L. Metcalfe Walling, Mr. 
Richard B. Watrous, and Mr. Frederic E. Whi taker. 

This volume was prepared under the editorial supervision of Joseph 
Gaer, Editor-in-Chief of the New England Guides and Chief Field 
Supervisor of the Federal Writers' Project. 

State Director 



By Jarvis M. Morse, State Director, Federal Writers' Project 


Transportation and Accom- Climate and Equipment 

modations Information for the Motorist 

















xii Contents 





Music 164 



(City and Town Descriptions and City Tours) 

Bristol 183 

Newport 198 

Pawtucket 241 

Providence 252 

Warwick 292 

Westerly 298 

Woonsocket 311 


(Mile-by-Mile Description of the State's Highways) 

TOUR i From Massachusetts Line (North Attleboro) to 

Connecticut Line (New London). US 1 321 

lA From Westerly to Watch Hill 346 

2 From Providence to Westerly. State 3 350 

2A From Junction with State 3 (Cranston) to Junc- 
tion with StateS (Washington). State 3 A 363 

3 From Junction with State 3 (Warwick) to Junc- 
tion with US 1 (Charlestown). State 2 368 

4 From Massachusetts Line (Worcester) to Provi- 
dence. State 146 376 

4A From Junction with State 146 and Breakneck Hill 
Rd. (Lincoln Township) to Junction with US 1 

(Providence) 382 

Contents xiii 

46 From Woonsocket to Junction with US 44 (North 

Providence). State 104 385 

4.C From Massachusetts Line (Worcester) to Provi- 
dence. State 122 388 

5 From Massachusetts Line (Wrentham) to Newport. 
State 11 and State 114 392 

5A From Junction with US 6 (East Providence) to 
Junction with State 114 (Barrington). Barring- 
ton Parkway and State 103 410 

6 From Massachusetts Line (Fall River) to Junc- 
tion with State 114 (Newport). State 138 413 

6 A From Tiverton to Sakonnet Point. State 126 and 

Sakonnet Point Rd. 421 

7 From Newport to Saunderstown, via Jamestown 

(on Conanicut Island) 424 

yA Circuit of Conanicut Island 428 

8 From Newport to Block Island, via boat 

Sec. a. Newport to Block Island 433 

Sec. b. Block Island to Settlers' Rock 437 

Sec. c. Circuit of Block Island 439 

9 From Massachusetts Line (Uxbridge) to Wickford. 
State 102 440 

10 From Massachusetts Line (Fall River) to Connec- 
ticut Line (Willimantic) . US 6 449 

11 From Massachusetts Line (Taunton) to Connec- 
ticut Line (Putnam). US 44 457 



INDEX 481 


Blaskowitz Map of Narragansett 
Bay (1777) 
Courtesy of the John Carter Brown 


Reconstruction of a Narragansett 
Indian Vilkge, Goddard Park, 

Burning of the 'Gaspee' in 1772 
Courtesy of the Rhode Island His- 
torical Society 
Governor Joseph Wanton 

Courtesy of the Rhode Island His- 
torical Society 

Portrait of Thomas W. Dorr 
Oliver Hazard Perry House, South 


The Second Slater Mill (1793), 

Cranston Print Works, Cranston 

Arctic Mill, West Warwick 

Preparation of yarn for dyeing, Thies 
Dyeing Company, Centerville 

Silverware making, the Gorham 
Company, Providence 
Courtesy of the Gorham Company 

Tool making, the ' Scraping Depart- 
ment,' Brown & Sharp Manu- 
facturing Company, Providence 

Tool making, milling machinery, 
Brown & Sharp Manufacturing 
Company, Providence 
Courtesy of Brown & Sharp Manu- 
facturing Company 

Lace manufacturing, Bancroft Lace 
Company, West Warwick 


Rhode Island Hall, Brown Uni- 
versity, Providence 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Campus Scene, Rhode Island State 

College, Kingston 

Gymnasium, Rhode Island State 
College, Kingston 

between 36 and 37 
Fireplace, Nathanael Greene House, 


Doorway, Oliver Hazard Perry House 
Governor Samuel Ward King 

Courtesy of the Division of Public 

General Nathanael Greene 

Courtesy of the Rhode Island His- 
torical Society 
City of Providence about i8<o 

Courtesy of the Rhode Island His- 
torical Society 
Brown University about 1840 

Courtesy of the John Carter Brown 

State Capitol, Providence 

between 66 and 67 

Stone carving, Smith Granite Com- 
pany, Westerly 

Yacht under construction, The Her- 
reshoff Company, Bristol 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Yacht finishing, C. T. Bent, East 


Government Navigation Service, Bris- 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Port of Providence 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Rhode Island Turkey 
Rhode Island Red Hens at Rhode 

Island State College, Kingston 
Cows at Rhode Island State College, 

between 112 and 113 
Providence College, Providence 
Moses Brown School, Providence 
Diman Hall, St. George's School, 

Campus Scene, St. George's School, 



Illustrations and Maps 


Clemence House, Johnston 
Eleazer Arnold Tavern, or Old Stone 

Chimney House, Lincoln 
First Baptist Meeting-House, Provi- 
Old Colony House, Newport 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
John Brown House, Providence 
Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
'Hearthside/ Lincoln 

Bradford House, Hope Street, Bris- Providence 

Governor William Greene House, 

Division Street, Warwick 
Captain Card House, Westerly 
Harbor Scene, Newport 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House, 


Two views of the Fleur de Lys Build- 
ing, 7 Thomas Street, Providence 
Slatersville Congregational Church, 
North Smithfield 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Quaker Meeting-House, Newport 
Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

between 142 and 143 
Old Brick Market, Newport 
Entrance, John Carter Brown (or 

Nightingale) House, Providence 
Linden Place, Bristol 
Entrance, Crawford Allen House, 


Immanuel Case House, Wickford 
Doorway, Slatersville 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

between 188 and 189 
Harbor from Fort Hill, 
East Providence 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Pergola, John 3rown House, Provi- 
Country Road, Potowomut Peninsula, 


Reynolds House, Hope Street, Bristol 
A picturesque corner, Angell and 
Benefit Streets, Providence 


Lightning Splitter House, East 
Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

Hannah Robinson House, Narra- 

Doorway, Narragansett Church, 

Doorway, Hannah Robinson House, 

Street Scene, Wickford 

Doorway, Bishop House, Rumford 

Western Hotel, Nasonville 

Arnold Ellis House, West Green- 

Newman Church, Rumford 

Whitcomb Farmhouse, East Provi- 
Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

Jamestown Ferry 

Purgatory, Middletown 

Grave of Thomas Willett, East 

between 232 and 233 
Old Jewish Cemetery, Newport 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Holy Trinity Church, Tiverton 
Church of the Precious Blood, Woon- 

Trinity Church, Newport 

between 336 and 337 
Windmill, Portsmouth 
Mount Hope Bridge, Bristol-Ports- 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 
Amos Cook House, Cumberland Hill 
Fireplace House, Lincoln Woods, 


A South County Farmyard, Narra- 
Watch Hill, Block Island Sound 

between 366 and 367 
John Rowland House, Tiverton 
Centerville Bridge 
Country Road, West Warwick 
Friends Meeting-House, Woonsocket 
Willing Vose House, Woonsocket 
Providence County Court House 
New Industrial Trust Company, 


Doorway, St. John's Rectory, New- 

Illustrations and Maps 



between 396 and 397 

Yacht 'Aloha/ Newport Harbor 
Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

Rhode Island Yacht Club, Cranston 

Fish nets, Newport Harbor 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

Boating near Pawtuxet Cove, 

Bathing, Scarborough Beach, Nar- 

Waves lapping on the sand, Watch 
Hill and Napatree Point, Wes- 


Newport City Map 
Providence Metropolitan Map 
Providence Civic Center 
Rhode Island Key Map 

King Park, near Site of Rocham- 

beau's Landing at Newport 
Playground, Pawtucket 
Drive, Lincoln Woods Reservation, 

Picnic Grove and Fireplace, Goddard 

Park, Warwick 

Down the Home Stretch, Narra- 
gansett Park, Pawtucket 

Courtesy of Providence 'Star-Tribune* 
Cliff Walk, Newport 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 

Seascape, near Cliff Walk, Newport 

Courtesy of W. Lincoln Highton 




General Information on the State contains practical information for the 
State as a whole; the introduction to each city and tour description also 
contains specific information of a practical sort. 

The Essay Section of the Guide is designed to give a reasonably compre- 
hensive survey of the State's natural setting, history, and social, eco- 
nomic, and cultural development. Limitations of space forbid elaborately 
detailed treatments of these subjects, but a classified bibliography is 
included in the book. A great many persons, places, and events men- 
tioned in the essays are treated at some length in the city and tour descrip- 
tions; these are found by reference to the index. The State Guide is not 
only a practical travel book; it will also serve as a valuable reference 

The Guide is built on a framework of Tour Descriptions, written in 
general to follow the principal highways from north to south or from east 
to west, though they are as easily followed in the reverse direction. 

As a matter of convenience, lengthy descriptions of cities and towns 
are removed from the tour sections of the book and separately grouped 
in alphabetical order. 

Each tour description contains cross-references to other tours crossing 
or branching from the route described; it also contains cross-references 
to all descriptions of cities and towns removed from the tour descriptions. 

Readers can find the descriptions of important routes by examining 
the tour index or the tour key map. As far as possible, each tour descrip- 
tion follows a single main route; descriptions of minor routes branching 
from, or crossing, the main routes are in smaller type. 

Cumulative mileage is used on main and side tours, the mileage being 
counted from the beginning of each main tour or, on side tours, from the 
junction with the main route; mileage is started afresh on side routes 
branching from side routes. The mileage notations are at best relative, 
since totals depend to some extent on the manner in which cars are driven 
whether they cut around other cars, round curves on the inside or out- 
side of the road, and so forth. Then, too, the totals will in the future vary 
from those in the book because of road building in which curves will be 

xx Notations on the Use of the Book 

eliminated and routes will be carried around cities and villages formerly 
on the routes. 

Inter-State routes are described from and to the State Lines; in the 
Index to Tours and in the tour headings the names of the nearest out-of- 
State cities of importance on the routes are listed in parentheses to enable 
travelers readily to identify the routes. 

Descriptions of points of interest in each city are numbered and ar- 
ranged in the order in which they can conveniently be visited; the num- 
bers preceding the descriptions correspond with the numbers on the map 
of the city. The key list of points of interest on the city map is a partial 
index to the descriptions of points of interest in the city. 

Points of interest in cities, towns, and villages have not been indexed 
under the names of such communities, because many persons know the 
name of a point of interest, but are doubtful as to the name of the com- 
munity in which it is situated. 



(State map showing highways, and map giving routes of railroads, air- 
lines, bus lines, and water transportation, in pocket at inside of front 

Railroads: New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (N.Y., N.H. 
& H.) operates all lines within the State. Main line (Boston to New York) 
runs southwest through Providence. Branch lines from Providence to 
Woonsocket and Worcester, and from Providence to Bristol. (See 
Transportation map.) 

Bus Lines: Greyhound Lines, Great Eastern Bus System, New England 
Transportation Company, Short Line. Ten lesser lines offer intrastate 
service. (See Transportation map.) 

Highways'. Three Federal highways. Highway patrol maintained. No 
border inspection. Gasoline tax $. (For highway routes see State map.) 

Steamboat Lines: Colonial Navigation Company offers year-round service 
to New York. Summer lines to Newport and Block Island. (See Trans- 
portation map.) 

Airlines: American Airlines, Inc., connecting, at State airport in Warwick, 
with transcontinental lines from Boston and New York. (See Transporta- 
tion map.) 

Accommodations: Best sleeping and dining accommodations are in Provi- 
dence, Newport, and Woonsocket. Scattered but adequate elsewhere. 


Recreational Areas: Newport, Narragansett Pier, Providence, Narra- 
gansett Bay coast line, and Atlantic seaboard. Ample swimming, boating, 
fishing, golfing, tennis, and riding facilities. Summer colonies at Narra- 
gansett Pier, Newport, Conanicut Island, and elsewhere. 

Fishing Laws: Game fish are defined as trout, black bass, pickerel, white 
perch, and yellow or striped perch. 

Open Season: Trout, April 15 July 15. Black bass, June 20 
February 20. Pickerel, June 20 February 20. Lobster, April i 
December 31. Oysters and scallops, second Monday in September 
January 15. 

xxii General Information 

Licenses: Required of all male persons over 18 years of age when 
fishing in fresh-water ponds and streams. Women, and children under 
18 years, are exempt. Resident, $1.25. Non-resident, same fee as 
required of non-residents in their State, but not less than $2.50. 
Aliens who have resided in the State one year, $2.50. Other aliens, 
$5. Lobster, $5. Shellfish, $2. Issued by city and town clerks. 

Limits (daily): Black bass (not less than 10 inches in length), 8. 
Pickerel (10 inches), 18. Trout (7 inches), 20. White perch (6 
inches), 20. Yellow or striped perch (6 inches), 30. Lobster (4^6 
inches, body measure). Residents are allowed to take i bushel of 
oysters, clams, and quahaugs without a license; with license, 20 

Prohibited: Sale of black bass, trout, pickerel, and yellow perch 
caught in State waters. 

Hunting Laws: Small game is defined as pheasants, ruffed grouse, wood- 
cock, quail, ducks, geese, Wilson snipe, brant, rails, gallinules, sora, coot, 
rabbit, hare, fox, squirrel, raccoon, muskrat, mink, and otter. 

Open Season (dates inclusive): Partridge, quail, cock pheasant, 
November i December 31 (New Shoreham pheasants are pro- 
tected except on the first and third Wednesdays in November and 
first Wednesday in December). Limit, two per day. Woodcock, 
November i November 20. Duck (except wood duck, ruddy duck, 
bufflehead duck), goose (except Ross' goose and snow geese), brant, 
coot, jacksnipe, October 21 November 19. Rails and gallinules, 
September i November 30. Gray squirrel, hare, rabbit, November 
i December 31. Raccoon, October i February i. Muskrat, 
mink, otter, November i February i (Bristol and Newport 
counties, December i March i). 

Licenses: Resident, $2^25. Non-resident, $10.25. Aliens, $15.25. 
Issued by city and town clerks. 

Limits: 2 ruffed grouse or partridges, 3 cock pheasants, 6 quail, 10 
ducks, 4 geese including brant, 4 woodcock, 15 Wilson snipe, 15 coot, 
15 rails and gallinules a day. Migratory game birds may be possessed 
during the first ten days of closed season, but not more than one 
day's limit of such birds may be possessed at any one time. 

Game taken outside of State and legally exported may be imported 
and possessed under permit from commissioners, except migratory 
game birds as mentioned previously. 

Export of all game prohibited; excepting that a non-resident 
licensee may take out under his license 10 wild ducks, 4 geese includ- 
ing brant, 4 woodcock, and 10 each of jacksnipe, coots, rails, and 
gallinules in one calendar year if carried open to view. 

Prohibited: Use of wire snares, poison, traps set in open, ferreting, 
or use of weasel; killing of hen pheasants, wood duck, swan, or 

General Information xxiii 

shore birds; shooting of game birds between sunset and one-half 
hour before sunrise. 

Note: Hunting and fishing laws are altered so frequently that 
tourists should procure the latest digest available. 


Weather conditions are uncertain. The summer wardrobe of light clothing 
should be supplemented by heavier wraps to meet occasional periods of 
damp chilly weather which occur during the hottest months. Topcoats 
are in general use in the spring and fall seasons, while overcoats of heavy 
weight are worn throughout the winter. Except in rare instances the 
snowfall is moderate, with the main arteries of travel open and passable. 


Non-resident owners or operators of motor cars are permitted to use the 
highways of the State, provided they have complied with the laws of 
registration and operation of the State or section in which they reside, and 
provided that the State or section in which they reside extends a reciprocal 
privilege to drivers of Rhode Island cars. Registrar of Motor Vehicles 
reserves right to revoke this privilege. Registrar reserves right of attorney 
for service of civil process against non-residents. Registration Authority, 
Division of Motor Vehicles, State Office Building, Providence. Office 
hours from 9 to 4.30. Saturday to 12 noon. 

Legal Speeds: Twenty miles per hour in congested areas, 35 miles per hour 
elsewhere. State Police post signs giving limits of reasonable speed on all 
State highways, except in winter months. These signs have no legal 
validity, however, and are no assurance against arrest if a driver operates 
at a speed which shall be considered unreasonable in unusual circum- 
stances. Congestion in the State, as elsewhere in New England, makes 
strict supervision of speed imperative. The State regulates all speed laws, 
in urban as well as rural districts. 

General Rides of the Road: At intersections, driver approaching from right 
has right of way. Trolley cars are not to be passed on the side open for 
passengers except where there is an established safety zone or on the 
direction of a traffic officer. It is permissible to pass trolley cars on the 
left, at a cautious rate of speed, and at the driver's risk. No turn may be 
made at a red light except where such is indicated by a green arrow. Keep 
in right-hand lane except when overtaking or passing another vehicle; 
do not pass on the right; never pass on a hill curve, or other place where 
the view is obstructed. Do not pass at intersections. Observe and obey 
all highway signs. Any person who moves, releases the brakes of, or 

xxiv General Information 

disturbs a motor vehicle belonging to someone else is subject to the law 
against operating or tampering with a motor vehicle without the consent 
of the owner. Any person in a motor vehicle who removes any article 
from fields, gardens, or land subjects the operator of that vehicle to loss 
of license upon conviction. There are laws against driving under the 
influence of drugs or intoxicating liquors (heavy penalty), racing on the 
highways, excessive exhaust smoke, driving with muffler open, using 
sirens, and throwing lighted tobacco or any other lighted material on the 
roads. Motor cars must have a rear lamp, and must have two head lamps 
operating sufficiently to reveal objects at a distance of two hundred feet. 
These must be used from one-half hour after sundown until one-half hour 
before sunrise, or at any other time when objects cannot be discerned 
within a distance of two hundred feet. 

Trailers: Trailers are permitted at any of the State reservations having 
a camp site. There are camp grounds at Goddard Park (Warwick), 
Lincoln Woods (Lincoln), Dawley Park (Richmond), Haines Park (Bar- 
rington), and Pawtuxet River Reservation (Cranston). Permit 15 cents, 
plus 50 cents charge for a week or part thereof. Parking limit two weeks, 
but extension may be secured if camp is not crowded. Trailers may be 
parked at any private auto camp that makes arrangements for them; 
there are such camps at Matunuck, Point Judith, Narragansett, and 

Persons walking on highways shall keep as far to the left as is practicable. 
Ambulances, fire engines, and police cars have right of way at all times. 

Motorists requiring services of State Police should report by telephone to 

the nearest of the following barracks: 


Lincoln Barracks . Perry 1200 

Chepachet Barracks Pascoag 12 

Scituate Barracks Scituate 12 

Wickford Barracks Wickford 12 

Hope Valley Barracks Hope Valley 12 

Portsmouth Barracks Portsmouth 12 


Note: nfd means no fixed date. 


2d wk 


Mid- Winter Concert, Providence Festival 





Ice Carnival, Rhode Island Department 

American Legion. 


ist wk 


Winter Sports Carnival. 




Military Ball, Rhode Island Chapter 

Reserve Officers' Association. 




Manual Art Exhibit of Junior High 

School Work. 




Opening of the Lobster Season. 




Opening of the Trout-Fishing Season. 


4th wk 


Annual Jamboree, Rhode Island Boy 





Flower Show, Rhode Island Federation of 

Flower Clubs. 




Rhode Island Independence Day. 




Novelty Park Club Marathon. 




Interscholastic Track Meet. 


ist wk 


Opening of the Newport Casino Season. 


ist wk 


Exhibit of the Handicraft Club. 


2d wk 


Music Week Festival, Rhode Island 

Federation of Music Clubs. 


4th wk 

Jacob's Hill 

(Seekonk, Mass.) 

Annual Horse Show. 


4th wk 


Invitation Tournament, Rhode Island 

Golf Association. 




Opening of the Racing Season, Narra- 

gansett Park. 


3d wk 


State Women's Amateur Golf Title Play. 




Newport to Bermuda Race, Cruising Club 

of America. 




Providence Festival Chorus Concert. 




Annual Encampment, Veterans of Foreign 





Long Distance Overnight Race, Edge- 

wood Yacht Club. 




America's Cup Races, New York Yacht 

Club, in Years of English Challenge. 




Display of Roses, Roger Williams Park. 


ist wk 


Amateur Flower Show, Newport Horti- 

cultural Society. 


ist wk 


Newport Flower Show, Newport Garden 



ist wk 


American Kennel Club Dog Show. 


Annual Events 

Aug. 3d wk 

Aug. 3d wk 

Aug. 3d wk 

Aug. 3d wk 




4th wk 
ist wk 
ist wk 
3d wk 

Watch Hill 


4th wk 
4th wk 



4th wk 








Oct. ist wk Providence 

Oct. 2d wk Pascoag 
Oct. nfd Providence 

Oct. nfd 


Nov. i State 

Nov. 14 Olneyville 

Nov. ist wk Providence 

Nov. 2d wk West Warwick 

Nov. 3d wk Providence 

Nov. nfd 


Dec. ist wk Providence 
Dec. 4th wk Providence 

Floral, Fruit, and Vegetable Exhibit, 
Narragansett Horticultural Society. 

Invitation Tennis Tournament, the 

King and Astor Cup Races. 

Annual Reception and Tea, Newport Art 

Watch Hill Beach Club Water Carnival. 

Opening of the Oyster Season. 

Kingston Fair. 

Opening of the Scallop Season. 

New England Horseshoe Pitchers' Cham- 
pionship Tourney. 

Endicott Cup Golf Tournament. 

Rhode Island Junior Horseshoe Pitchers' 

Rhode Island Women's Golf League 

Casting Tournament of Rhode Island Fish 
and Game Protective Association. 

Open House in Observance of Navy Day: 
Torpedo Station, Naval Training Sta- 
tion, Naval War College, and Naval 

Rhode Island Golf Association Invitation 

Harness Races, Burrillville Driving Club. 

Opening of the Boston Symphony Orches- 
tra Concert Season. 

Opening of the Providence Community 
Concert Association Season. 

Opening of the Hunting Season. 

Pulaski Day Celebration. 

Chrysanthemum Show. 

Gertin Marathon. 

Rhode Island Food Show and Better 
Homes Exposition. 

Opening of the Providence Symphony 
Orchestra Concert Season. 

Providence Police Association Ball. 

Charity Ball, Volunteers of America. 





RHODE ISLAND, the smallest State in the Union, is about 48 miles 
long and 37 miles wide; it could be contained in Texas two hundred times. 
Of Rhode Island's 1497 square miles, more than 200 are occupied by the 
waters of Narragansett Bay, which extends 28 miles inland from the sea 
past gently rolling hills. The Island of Rhode Island, on which is situated 
the city of Newport, is the largest in the bay, others of note being Conani- 
cut, Prudence, Dutch, and Gould. Seventy-six miles of coast face the At- 
lantic, while 170 miles of coastline skirt the inland waters of the State. 
Rhode Island is bounded on the west by Connecticut, and on the north 
and east by Massachusetts; the State lies between 41 18' and 42 31' 
North Latitude, and between 71 8' and 71 53' West Longitude. 

From Napatree Point, at the extreme southwestern corner of the 
State, easterly to Point Judith is a continuous front line of beaches behind 
which lie many 'salt ponds.' These ponds have been formed by the sea 
breaking through the outer sand barrier, and then depositing sand to 
close the opening. East of Point Judith another beach area is found in the 
town of Narragansett. On the southern tip of the Island of Rhode Island 
wave action has created four or five more fine beaches, and another near 
Sakonnet on the eastern tip of the mainland. Within the bay itself the 
combined action of wave and tide has produced several sandspits and 
forelands, good examples of the latter being Gaspee Point and Conimicut 
Point, some seven and nine miles respectively to the south of Providence. 

About midway between Point Judith and Montauk Point, New York, 
lies Block Island, comprising eleven square miles of tillable land; this is 
a noted vacation spot. 

Rhode Island has three main topographical divisions, which correspond 
closely with geologic formations: (i) An area of sand-plain lowlands is 
adjacent to the ocean and Narragansett Bay. In this area carbonaceous 
and graphite shoals have offered little resistance to erosion. Bedrock may 
be 200 feet below sea level, and the eroded areas have been overlaid by 
heavy deposits forming the visible sand plains. (2) The slightly higher 

Rhode Island : The General Background 

and gently rolling lands to the east of the upper bay are composed of coarse 
sandstone and conglomerates which have withstood weathering to a 
greater degree than the formation just noted above. (3) The largest topo- 
graphical division is that of higher land, which rises abruptly about 200 
feet just west of Providence and reaches its highest point, 805 feet, at 
Durfee Hill in Glocester. The latter hill is surrounded by a plateau of from 
600 to 700 feet in elevation. This plateau is marked by long ridgy hills 
which tend to have easy northern slopes, sharper southern slopes, and 
rather more abrupt western than eastern slopes. 

Generally speaking, the western two-thirds of the State is underlaid 
by ancient crystalline rocks, which have withstood eroding better than 
the area nearer the shore. All of southeastern Rhode Island, except for a 
small part of Portsmouth and Tiverton, is less than 200 feet above sea 
level, but the northwestern section, or that part of the State lying roughly 
beyond a line drawn from the northern boundary of Westerly into Cum- 
berland, is featured by elevations of 200 to 800 feet. 


Rhode Island, lying in the north temperate zone on the Atlantic sea- 
board, shares with the surrounding States the inconsistent climate charac- 
teristic of that region. Without going against Nature and absolutely 
defying the four seasons, Rhode Island climate has as many variations as 
the solar system will permit. 

Being not only on the seacoast but also vastly encroached upon by the 
waters of Narragansett Bay, the State is at the mercy of winds from both 
land and sea. The temperature of these, winds is affected by the elements 
over which they pass; if over land, it is hot in summer and cold in winter; 
if over sea, it is tempered by water's slower change, and is relatively cool 
in summer and warm in winter. Furthermore, the State is situated near 
the confluence of many low-pressure, cyclonic storm tracks, and this often 
causes abrupt changes of wind direction which play havoc with the 
climate. This condition prevails from October to April, and although the 
summer temperatures are more equable than those of the winter, the 
general weather conditions are never without their changes and surprises. 

The climate of a region is usually judged by the length of the growing 
season, which lies between the two average or probable dates of killing 
frost. In Rhode Island the normal growing season extends from May i to 

. The Natural Setting 

October 15, but there are distinct variations from year to year, and varia- 
tion among the different communities even within the State's small area. 
Variations of the latter sort are so prevalent all over the country that the 
United States Department of Agriculture lists the growing season by 
municipalities rather than by States or even counties. From Rhode Is- 
land's northwest, or inland, portion to Block Island, which lies some 
ten miles off the coast, the season varies in length from four to seven 
months. Therefore, the five and one-half months from May i to October 
15 can be taken only as an average. This period of 168 days is not signifi- 
cantly longer or shorter than the growing seasons in other temperate 

Rhode Island's seasonal variation in temperature averages 56 that 
is, the thermometer rises 56 from the average winter low to the average 
summer high, or from 22.5 to 78.5. The year 1934 gave two extremes, 
the thermometer going to 17 below zero in February and rising to 100 
in July; but climatically, this was an extreme year throughout most of the 
United States. In July, 1936, when heat records were being broken in the 
West, the official temperature in Providence did not exceed 94. 

The average precipitation, or rainfall, is about 48 inches annually, 
of which very nearly half falls during the growing season. The rainfall 
in Rhode Island may be considered normal, being neither too little nor 
too much. 

The average humidity (the relative amount of water vapor in the air) 
is 64.25 over the year; for the different periods of the year it is as follows: 
December to February, 66; March to May, 60; June to August, 66; 
September to November, 65. The number 100 corresponds to the satura- 
tion point of the air; at this point, the amount of water vapor in the air is 
so great that the vapor turns into precipitation or ram. Like the figures 
for the growing season, the figures for the average humidity vary con- 
siderably in different parts of the State, the humidity being higher near 
the inland waters. Summer climate along the coast is generally pleasant, 
and the prevailing direction of the winds, despite the innumerable dis- 
turbances, is northwest. 


Some twenty to forty thousand years ago, what is now the State 
of Rhode Island was beginning to be freed from the load of glacial ice 

Rhode Island : The General Background 

which had formerly been pushed intermittently down over the north- 
eastern part of the country from farther north. This great mass of ice, 
calculated to have been more than a mile in thickness, exercised profound 
effects upon the land underneath, some of the results being amply il- 
lustrated in the State's present topography. Glacial action made the 
northern slopes of the hills more gentle than the southern; it carved out 
rock bowls to form natural reservoirs like Wallum Lake, Beach Pond, and 
Stafford Pond, and with the melting away of ice at the outer edge of its 
advance, it left deposits of boulders and ill-sorted debris in a terminal 
moraine. This terminal moraine is the rather prominent belt of irregular 
boulder-covered hillocks extending from Watch Hill eastward into Wake- 
field. As the edge of the glacier melted farther back, away from this ridge 
of debris, the rivers resulting from the melting of great volumes of ice 
often became overloaded with sediment, so that they spread out behind 
the terminal moraine barrier and deposited the sediment there. These 
deposits form some of the sand plains now found around Central Falls 
and Providence. Sometimes an especially thick ice fragment was left 
behind to melt more slowly while sand and gravel were deposited around 
it, so that when it was finally gone another sort of depression was left 
a bowl in a dirt plain, which became a Lonsdale, Hammond, or Ponagan- 
sett Pond. The Island of Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay exists by 
reason of the fact that its bed rock was more resistant than the surround- 
ings, so that glacial action left it standing up above the channels cut out 
on either side. The origin of other islands in the bay, such as Conanicut 
and Gould, is similar. Block Island in the Atlantic, on the other hand, is 
part of a terminal moraine formed by glacial debris dumped some distance 
out to sea from the present shoreline. 

Much of New England is composed of old igneous and metamorphic 
rocks, but in several places there are down-folded troughs of younger 
bedded sedimentary rocks. The Narragansett basin, which extends from 
the lower Narragansett Bay northward and northeastward into Massa- 
chusetts, to a few miles east of Brockton and Middleboro, is such a trough. 
The western boundary of this basin runs from near Wakefield northward 
a few miles west of the bay, just west of East Greenwich, along the south- 
eastern foot of Neutaconkanut Hill, west of Valley Falls, and crosses the 
northern boundary of the State near Diamond Hill. The eastern boundary 
runs south from Fall River, Massachusetts, through Tiverton, and follows 
along a short distance east of the east shore of the Sakonnet River. A few 
patches of granite and metamorphic rocks occur in this basin at Bristol, 
also to the southwest of Newport and at the south end of Conanicut 

The Natural Setting 

Island. Another small basin extends from Woonsocket southwest to the 
vicinity of North Scituate. Except for these basins of sedimentary rocks, 
the State is underlain by igneous and metamorphic formations. Thus, 
most of the western part of the State is composed of igneous and meta- 
morphic rocks and most of the eastern part is in the area of the younger 
sedimentary deposits. 

The rocks of the western part of the State are largely granites of several 
different ages (Northbridge, Sterling, Milford, and Quincy), but all 
several hundred million years old. They were formed by the cooling and 
solidification of great masses of molten material which had worked upward 
from within the earth toward, but not to, the surface. The fact that these 
rocks now crop out in the numerous ledges of western Rhode Island is due 
to long periods of erosion, during which thousands of feet of overlying 
material were stripped off. A very unusual type of stone, formed in the 
same way as the granites but of different composition, is the iron-bearing 
rock at Iron Mine Hill (see Tour 4C). This hill has aroused considerable 
popular interest because it is the only place in the world where such 
a formation is known to crop out and because, although it has only the 
one outcrop, heavy boulders of the same black material are found at many 
points to the south, even as far as Block Island, where they were carried 
by the glacier many millions of years later. The metamorphic rocks of 
the State include recrystallized types. Small patches of quartzite are all 
that remain of ancient sandstones. The greenstones, or chlorite schists, 
are probably old recrystallized basaltic lavas. They form many ledges and 
are quarried here and there for road metal. There are a few small masses 
of recrystallized limestone, especially near Limerock. All of these igneous 
and metamorphic rocks are geologically rather old, and have gone through 
a complicated history. 

The younger formations of the sedimentary basins are some two hun- 
dred million years old, and were formed during the age when the coal of 
Pennsylvania and some of the other great coal-producing States was 
accumulating. On a floor of eroded igneous and metamorphic rocks were 
deposited layers of gravel, sand, and mud. At times the land became very 
damp, and considerable thicknesses of plant growth accumulated in the 
swamps where ancient plants grew in profusion. The black shales and 
slates today show many imprints of the leaves, stems, and trunks of the 
plants of that time. These beds of plant matter later turned into coal. 
After the deposition of these great layers of gravel, sand, mud, and coal, 
these beds were caught in a great compressional movement of the earth's 
crust which folded and faulted the land all along the Appalachian Moun- 

8 Rhode Island : The General Background 

tains. The buried material was then elevated and erosion began its attack. 
In this part of the country most of the coal-age rocks were carried away 
by erosion except the troughs of the folds, such as the Narragansett basin 
and the Woonsocket basin. Attempts to mine what remains of the coal 
have been made at Portsmouth, Cranston, Valley Falls, and elsewhere, 
but the coal generally has too much ash for use without special treatment, 
and in some places it was so compressed and crushed that it turned into 
graphite. Aside from the erosion, the only recorded geologic event before 
the recent glaciation was the intrusion of several small bodies of fine 
granite and related rocks near Westerly. At various places in the State 
there are mineral veins which yield some interesting mineralogical 
specimens, although they are usually small. Several old metal mines 
have been dug in these veins, but as far as can be learned, no great profits 
were gained therefrom. 

The coal deposits of the Narragansett Bay region are rich in petrified 
plants of a prehistoric age. Research has revealed that local specimens 
are closely allied with specimens found in Missouri. Examples of fossils 
derived from the animal world are, however, seldom found within the 
boundaries of this State, and most of these belong to the family of insects 
and amphibians which have been uncovered in the coal measures around 
Plainville, Massachusetts. Occasional imprints of four-toed amphibians 
have been found by workers connected with the geology department of 
Brown University. Probably the chief reason for the scarcity of these 
remains is that the Rhode Island sedimentary rocks, of the kind in which 
fossils are usually found, were mostly formed in fresh water. 

Before the age of huge animals, however, there was a period of luxuriant 
plant life, the local remains of which are more common. This plant life 
was of a non-flowering type, composed of seed ferns, club mosses, and 
giant horsetails that flourished in a cool, moist, cloudy climate. Brown 
University has an extensive collection (several tons in fact) of various 
types of fossil fernlike plants and other forms of plant life. At the present 
time one may find shale fragments which, when split open, show the 
delicate tracery of a seed fern imprinted upon these ancient muds. Many 
plant fossils were found when the car tunnel through College Hill was 
excavated in 1914; and from Valley Falls westward to Sockanosset, and 
thence southward, the coaly shales will often be found to carry imprints 
of early plants. 

The later-formed coarse sandstones of the Narragansett basin contain 
few fossils, but have casts of horsetails and club mosses. One of the largest 
discovered had a trunk diameter of sixteen inches, and was possibly fifty 

The Natural Setting 

feet in height. Its linear-grooved bark was buried in the muds and sands 
hundreds of millions of years ago, and was revealed when the McCormick 
sandstone quarry in East Providence was opened. Not far away, in a 
ravine leading to the Seekonk River, can be found growing today the 
dwarf eighteen-inch descendants of these past giants. 


Two bedrock resources of the State have acquired national repute 
-one, the Westerly granite, by reason of its intrinsic value, and the other, 
the unique Rhode Island coal, because of its place at the far eastern end 
of the coal series in the country. The area of commercial granite is in the 
southwestern part of the State, extending from Westerly eastward to 
Bradford. Here we find a busy and localized industry; the granite areas 
are relatively small, and vary considerably in quantity. The rock itself 
is fine-grained, and either pink or gray according to the color of the 
predominant mineral, feldspar. It is generally made up of glassy quartz, 
feldspar, and a little black mica. This fine-textured rock will take a high 
polish, is free from impurities which might otherwise produce stains, and 
has a high crushing strength. All of the foregoing characteristics make it 
an excellent granite for monuments and building purposes. The most 
usable stone is surrounded by an older coarse-grained granite into which 
the newer Westerly granite forced its way while molten, deep down in the 
earth's crust; finally by ages of erosion the cover was removed and the fine 
granite was exposed for man's use (see WESTERLY). 

From numerous places in the western upland area of the State are 
taken considerable amounts of granite gneiss which can be used for curb- 
ing and for some building purposes. Practically all of the rural chimneys 
and the foundations of early hpuses in the State were made of this ma- 
terial, and also some of the older buildings at State College in Kingston. 
Owing to the shearing which affected it, and which gave to this rock 
a streakiness and a tendency to split easily, it has only about one-third 
the strength of Westerly granite, and may be used only for low buildings 
or for incidental stone work. 

Along the northwestern border of the State, in Glocester and Foster, 
is found a belt of light-colored quartzite, more or less sheared, which in 
early times was used as whetstones for scythes (see Tour 4). 

At various places west and north of Providence, quarry operations have 

io Rhode Island: The General Background 

been carried on in a fine-grained, dark greenstone. Quantities of this 
material from Neutaconkanut Hill, Manton, Berkeley, and Pascoag have 
been excavated and crushed for use as road material and concrete ag- 
gregate. This rock is presumably a metamorphosed intrusion of fine- 
grained basalt. It has been compressed by mountain-building forces, 
which have sheared it< weakened it, and changed the mineral character- 
istics in some degree. It thus tends to split more readily in one direction 
than another, and to produce shaly fragments, and on these planes will 
frequently be found spots of greasy serpentine or talc. Certain portions 
of the greenstone area have a more massive rock than the ordinary type 
used for trap-rock, but these more valuable portions of the quarries are 
infrequent, so that the rocks of both high and low grade are crushed to- 
gether to go into a common product. 

Not far from the State border, and about three miles east of Woon- 
socket, near Cumberland Hill, lies a small area about one-half mile in 
diameter of a deep-seated, coarse-grained, heavy, tough, black rock, that 
has long been quarried and crushed for the general purposes of trap-rock. 
It has high crushing strength and is more expensive to prepare for the 
market than ordinary trap-rock, such as is obtained from the New Haven 
section of Connecticut. It contains a coarse or magnetite iron oxide, and 
common boulders of this Cumberland rock are frequently brought in as 
possible meteorites. The other trap-rock occurring in Rhode Island is in 
relatively infrequent narrow dikes; it does not occur in the Narragansett 
basin sediments, but in the upland crystalline area. All of these narrow 
dikes exhibit the basalt jointing cracks extending inward from the cooling 
surface of the walls, which make a trap-rock very easy to crush to different 
sizes for road and other purposes. 

From one of the largest dikes in the Snake Den Quarry, in Johnston 
(see Tour 10), gold was supposed to have been extracted in some cyanide 
vats, at the beginning of the past century, to interest unwary investors. 
No gold is found in any of the Rhode Island rocks in paying quantities, 
and this development was simply a get-rich-quick scheme in which the 
gold was interjected into the process by the operators. Several other 
unsuccessful attempts have been made to mine gold in Rhode Island. 

One of the earliest charters granted by the Colony for the exploitation 
of natural resources related to the deposits of limestone of the Harris 
Quarries, on the present Louisquisset Pike, in the town of Lincoln. For 
some time this quarry has been idle, though near the villages of Limerock 
and Berkeley are found ruins of former lime kilns. The old excavations 
are now filled with water. However, an opening at the Dexter Quarry in 

The Natural Setting 

Lincoln, two miles east of the earliest excavation, is still in use and pro- 
duces annually some thirty-five thousand barrels of quicklime and slack 
for soils (see Tour 4: A). 

From early times it was known that burnable deposits of coal existed 
in the vicinity of Narragansett Bay. In 1809 the General Assembly 
authorized a $10,000 lottery to develop the Portsmouth coal mine, and 
apparently about a million tons of coal were mined from this seam. North 
of Little Compton, the coal has been changed to a graphite, and was mined 
to a limited extent for that product. In the town of Cranston are two 
well-known coal developments. One of these, the so-called Cranston coal 
mine, north of Sockanosset School on State 3, has experienced an inter- 
mittent development for a great many years; its irregular carbonaceous 
bed is about ten feet thick (see Tour 2). On Cranston Street, on the 
eastern slope of Laurel Hill, extensive excavations into a more graphitic 
layer have been made. Here many thousands of tons were taken out from 
the old Fenner Ledge near the Arlington car barn. The old Valley Falls 
coal mine near Pawtucket had several hundred feet of underground work- 
ings in the northward continuation of this same coaly layer (see Tour 5) . 
At the present time, though, nearly all of the above developments have 
been abandoned and the shafts are either closed or filled with water. 

The history of coal mining in Rhode Island is a record of attempts to 
mine and market an anthracite coal so highly compressed by mountain- 
building forces that it had lost the characteristics of ordinary anthracite 
and had become graphitic and almost infusible. Solutions of quartz and 
pyrite were also injected into this material, which accounts for the high 
amount of ash in these coals; this ash usually has to be removed by some 
flotation process or other special treatment. The extreme reluctance of 
Rhode Island coal to ignite, together with its high content of clinker- 
forming ash, gives it a low fuel value. 

A typical sandstone quarry is found in East Providence, one-half mile 
east of Moore's Corner, near the junction of Pawtucket and Warren 
Avenues. The rock here is composed of quartz grains and clay, with some 
still unweathered feldspar. It is rather nonporous, fairly coarse grained, 
and gray in color, with the joint faces showing a pleasing rusty tone. Its 
use as building material is exhibited in Wilson Hall at Brown University. 
This rock, while not possessing the necessary characteristics for the high- 
est grade road material, is still of great value for rough dimension stone 
and for concrete aggregates. 

Throughout the metropolitan area from Valley Falls southward to Na- 
tick and Apponaug are the level glacial sand plains. These plains are com- 

12 Rhode Island: The General Background 

posed of more or less stratified sand and gravel, with occasional beds of fine 
clay, that were deposited in still water at the front of the retreating 
glaciers. These sands and gravels furnish an abundance of excellent 
material for mortar, and for both fine and coarse concrete aggregates. 
Hence with several hundred square miles covered from ten to one hundred 
and fifty feet deep with this material, Rhode Island has no need for im- 
ports of this character. Numerous sand and gravel pits have been opened 
and developed. 

The complex geology of Rhode Island has benefited collectors, for 
within its small area are found specimens of many different minerals. 
The Neutaconkanut Hill region is a favorite resort of geology students 
on field tours; the Limerock area with its several quarries provides varied 
specimens of quartz and calcite, and a local variety of serpentine called 
bowenite. The Diamond Hill and Cumberland Hill regions have also 
furnished many species, samples of which may be found in the museums 
of Brown University, Harvard University, and the Boston Society of 
Natural History. Minor minerals accompanying granite have also been 
found in the rocks of these quarries. Epidote is occasionally found near 
Pascoag, and fibrous quartz occurs at many places in the coal seams, and 
ottrelite in the associated rocks. The soapstone outcropping near Ochee 
Spring on Hartford Avenue, Johnston, is of both historic and mineral 
importance, since it was the scene of the quarrying operations by the 
Indians, who used the stone for jars or ollas (see Tour 10). 


Generally speaking, the best soils of Rhode Island lie along Narragan- 
sett Bay, and the most sterile are found along the Connecticut border in 
the western part of the State. Many variations in the quality, texture, 
and location of the types of Rhode Island soil make possible the raising of 
a great variety of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. Of the eleven recognized 
types of soil, six cover about ninety-eight per cent of the State to an 
average depth of ten inches. 

The light brown sand, known as Glocester stony loam, is to be found 
on more than forty-six per cent of Rhode Island acreage, but seldom near 
Narragansett Bay. The rough, almost mountainous topography of the 
Glocester area, and the loose, rocky subsoil, make for thorough drainage. 
Owing to this fact, the land becomes too dry for cultivation when there 

The Natural Setting 13 

is a drought, and at times it becomes too dry even for pasturage. The 
weather also accounts for the presence of the soil itself, for Glocester 
stony loam is derived from the immediately underlying rock. Mechanical 
weathering processes, not chemical decomposition, break down the rock 
into fine gravel. Such soil produces the stunted chestnut, oak, and gray 
birch trees of the western part of the State. Blackberries and huckle- 
berries grow wild in profusion, but less than one-tenth of the Glocester 
stony loam has been cultivated. 

The strongest general soil in Rhode Island, the Miami stony loam, 
covers the smooth rolling hills of the Narragansett basin and its table- 
lands, particularly in Cumberland and South Kingstown (see Tour 1), and 
on the large island in the bay. Miami stony loam is mellow brown in 
color and firm enough to hold moisture for the entire growing season. 
Slightly more than one-fifth of the soil of Rhode Island is of this type. It 
is a typical glacial soil derived from a deposit of glacial till on the fine- 
grained rock of the area. It has been cultivated to raise good crops of hay 
and corn and, in the southeastern part of the State, potatoes and onions. 

Warwick sandy loam covers nearly twelve per cent of the acreage of 
Rhode Island. It is found not only in Warwick, but also across the bay in 
East Providence and Barrington, where it lies in almost level undula- 
tions. It usually contains some fine gravel, but is generally free from 
large gravel and stones. Warwick sandy loam is profitable for cultivation 
in spite of its sandy character and loose porous subsoil, for it is usually 
found at low elevations and close enough to the water table to insure 
a supply of moisture for crops even in periods of drought. It is derived 
from glacial sediments and is normally a mellow brown, although wearing 
and cultivation have greatly modified its surface and color. It is well 
suited to the market-gardening practiced around Providence, and is the 
lightest of desirable grass and grain soils. 

In certain areas rather thin layers of Warwick sandy loam lie upon the 
large gravel and rounded boulders which form the subsoil for Alton stony 
loam. Such layers usually contain more gravel, and represent a phase of 
transition between the conditions giving rise to the coarser Alton stony 
loam and those which produced the typical Warwick sandy loam. One- 
tenth of Rhode Island soil is Alton stony loam. It is found on terrace 
remnants and abrupt slopes from which the soil covering has eroded, and 
it occurs in patches all over the State, particularly on Block Island (see 
Tour 8). Its porous character and loose subsoil make for rapid drainage; 
when it is supplied with moisture from higher lands and near-by slopes, 
however, it can be cultivated so as to produce fair crops of potatoes and 

14 Rhode Island : The General Background 

early vegetables. It is derived from various rough glacial sediments, and 
is a naturally productive soil when deep enough. Where it has not been 
cleared off for truck-gardening and canning crops, Alton stony loam sup- 
ports a growth of wild grass, pitch pine, cedar, gray birch, and dense 

The thin and naturally unproductive soil known as Norfolk coarse 
sand supports a growth of scrubby pitch pine and wild grass on about 
four per cent of the State's land. With a heavy application of coarse 
organic manure and partial irrigation, this light brown or yellowish soil 
becomes arable, and is best suited to raising melons. 

Swamps cover about the same number of acres as the Norfolk coarse 
sand. When not used to store water for the mills, they merely lie useless 
and stagnant. Part of the swamp area is bog land which might be im- 
proved and converted into market-gardens. Where the peaty matter is of 
considerable depth, improvement for use as ordinary tillage is difficult, but 
such areas are said to be suited to the raising of cranberries. 


A mere glance at a map of Rhode Island will suggest that waterways 
and water resources play a large part in the life of the State. Narragansett 
Bay alone covers an area nearly one-fifth as great as that of the land area, 
and the bay together with inland waters occupies about twenty-five per 
cent of the State's gross area. Geographically speaking, Narragansett 
Bay with its extensions on the north, the Providence and the Seekonk 
Rivers, cuts the State into two unequal parts; the western section is much 
the larger, and is supplied with several large streams and ponds. Few 
places in the State are far from navigable waters; coasting vessels can 
reach Westerly and Wakefield in the south, and seagoing ships can dock 
at Providence and Pawtucket in the center, and at the peninsular or island 
ports of Barrington, Warren, Newport, and Block Island. 

Narragansett Bay is a great asset to Rhode Island from many points 
of view; it is useful for transportation, fisheries, and recreation. Together 
with its branches, Greenwich Bay, the Providence and Seekonk Rivers, 
Mount Hope Bay, and the Sakonnet River, Narragansett Bay extends 
inland more than twenty-eight miles. It forms the drainage basin for the 
Potowomut, Pawtuxet, Moshassuck, Woonasquatucket, and Blackstone 
Rivers in addition to the others previously mentioned. Within its large 

The Natural Setting 15 

expanse lies the Island of Rhode Island, on which are located the city of 
Newport and the towns of Middletown and Portsmouth; Conanicut 
Island, forming the major part of the town of Jamestown; Prudence 
Island, which belongs to the town of Portsmouth, and several smaller 
islands such as Dutch, Hope, Gould, Dyer, Hog, and Patience. The 
average range of the tide in Narragansett Bay is 3.5 feet at Newport and 
4.6 feet at Providence. 

The rivers of Rhode Island are not large, but on account of the uneven 
beds produced by glacial action many water-power sites have been de- 
veloped along their courses. The textile mill villages grew up around 
these natural sites, so that the industrial population of the State became 
highly centralized in the river valleys. Since the annual rainfall is fairly 
evenly distributed, the runoff of the streams is reasonably constant, 
except under unusual conditions of spring thaws or occasionally heavy 
autumn rains, so that the streams can be utilized most of the year as 
a source of power. It has been estimated that a little more than one-half 
of the annual rainfall runs off quickly, and about one-half of that amount 
is wasted during flood conditions, when it flows over dams and spillways 
without being utilized in water wheels or turbines (see Industry). 

The Pawcatuck River, which rises in Worden Pond, South Kingstown, 
is joined a short distance west thereof by the Queens River, which flows 
down from West Greenwich and Exeter; it courses thereafter generally 
in a southwesterly direction, being joined by the Wood River, after which 
it winds crookedly into Little Narragansett Bay off Watch Hill. For about 
ten miles the Pawcatuck River forms the boundary line between Rhode 
Island and Connecticut. It is about forty-two miles in length, and drains 
an area of about 295 square miles, sixty- two of which are in Connecticut. 
Except for the town of Westerly near its mouth, the Pawcatuck flows 
through sparsely populated country districts. There are seven dams on 
the river, supplying manufacturing plants with 1400 horse-power. 

The Potowomut River, lying almost wholly within East Greenwich, 
flows into Narragansett Bay just south of the mouth of Greenwich Bay. 
The valley of this stream is about seven miles long, and drains an area of 
about twenty- three square miles. The Potowomut has few dams; it flows 
in general through a sparsely populated area of farm lands and wooded 

The Pawtuxet River rises in the Scituate Reservoir, and joins in West 
Warwick the South Branch River, which begins in Coventry. From West 
Warwick the river runs northeast, forming part of the boundary line 
between Warwick and Cranston; it empties into the Providence River in 

1 6 Rhode Island: The General Background 

the village of Pawtuxet. The river is about twenty-eight miles in length, 
and it has a watershed of 232 square miles. It runs through twelve mill 
villages with a population of about 110,000. Along its lower half the 
Pawtuxet flows through a thickly populated district, where it is ex- 
tensively used for power. Its last three miles, however, are given over 
to recreational purposes (see Tour 1). 

The Woonasquatucket River rises in Smithfield and flows southeast 
through the mill towns of Georgiaville, Greystone, Centerdale, and 
Man ton into Providence. It has a drainage area of 52.3 square miles, on 
which live some 160,000 people. 

The Moshassuck River rises in the northern part of Lincoln, and flows 
south through that town into the Providence River. It is about nine miles 
long, with a watershed of 22.6 square miles. Below Saylesville the Moshas- 
suck runs through an industrial district. In the second quarter of the 
nineteenth century the lower part of this river was developed as part of 
the Blackstone Canal (see Tour 44). The estimated population of the 
Moshassuck River Valley is 134,000. 

The Blackstone River, more than forty miles long, rises in Massachu- 
setts and enters Rhode Island at the northwest corner of Woonsocket. 
It was named for William Blackstone, first white settler in what is now 
Cumberland (see Tour 5). For many years in early history the Black- 
stone River served as the eastern boundary of Providence Plantations. 
In its course through Woonsocket the river forms roughly a letter W; 
from Woonsocket it flows southeast into the Seekonk River. With a drain- 
age area of 540 square miles, about one-third of which lies within Rhode 
Island, the Blackstone flows through a densely populated manufacturing 
district; it is said to be one of the most completely utilized streams for 
industrial purposes in the world. There are thirty-four dams on the main 
stream, eleven of them in Rhode Island, utilizing 409 in a total fall of 471 
feet. Power plants installed on the stream are capable of producing 
15,000 horse-power. It was the Blackstone River which early determined 
the industrial character of Woonsocket. Abbott Run, largely in the town 
of Cumberland, is one of many tributaries to the Blackstone. The Rhode 
Island population of the valley is 184,000. 

Though there are many other short rivers in the State, the only one 
much used today for power or other industrial purposes is the Saugatuck, 
in South Kingstown, six miles in length, flowing through the industrial 
districts of Peace Dale and Wakefield. The largest inland body of water 
in the State is the Scituate Reservoir (see Tour 10). 

The Natural Setting 17 


An unexpected variety in the flora of Rhode Island is due to the peculiar 
geography of the State. The moderating effect of Narragansett Bay 
on the climate greatly aids the growth of such trees as the tulip, usually 
found from Pennsylvania south to the Gulf States, and the pin and post 
oaks, both of which are extremely rare so far north. Providence and the 
Buttonwoods area of Warwick have a number of beautiful tulip trees, 
and the oaks may be seen near the north shore of Wickford Harbor. On 
the other hand, in the north and northwestern sections of Rhode Island 
the canoe, or paper, birch and the sugar maple are to be found; although 
very seldom seen as far south as this State, they grow near Wallum Lake 
(see Tour 9), and on Diamond Hill in Cumberland. There are at least 
sixty different kinds of trees in Rhode Island, including species of oak, 
ash, hickory, elm, willow, maple, birch, poplar, pine, and cedar, all of 
which are native to the State. The maple has been adopted by the public 
schools as the State tree. Hundreds of trees and shrubs which have been 
introduced to Rhode Island may be seen flourishing in Roger Williams 
Park (see PROVIDENCE). Some of these are native to the Orient and 

Even greater variety is to be found among the smaller plants. The 
rocks and tidal pools of Narragansett Pier, Newport, and Sakonnet con- 
tain many species of seaweed, while the fresh- water algae of the same class 
are to be found in ponds and streams all over the State. Eelgrass, notable 
for its wonderful powers of fertilization, is found in the smaller bodies 
of salt water. Cat-tails and asters are to be found in the marshes of 
Charlestown and South Kingstown. In many places the seashore of 
Rhode Island is overgrown with plants. The Newport cliffs are sometimes 
painted the brick-red shade of the pimpernel (see NEWPORT), and in 
many places along the seashore a curious sort of fleshy chick weed (Arenaria 
peplodies, L.), grows abundantly. The surfaces of some of the fresh-water 
ponds in Roger Williams Park and East Greenwich are almost hidden at 
times beneath the wonderful pond lilies. Occasionally among the creamy 
white blossoms are to be seen a few rare pink ones. Pickerel weed, with 
its tall spikes of blue flowers, is also common in many ponds. On the cove 
lands of upper Providence grows the beautiful wild rice. Water weed, 
which became a nuisance in England after being transferred there as 
a novelty, is native to the rivers and streams of Rhode Island. Along the 

l8 Rhode Island: The General Background 

Woonasquatucket, among many other plants, there is usually a fine show 
of arrow-arum. 

The swamps of South Kingstown, Charlestown, and Westerly are over- 
grown with interesting flora. The sundew and the pitcher-plant, both 
insectivorous, are to be found, and there are patches of blue gentians and 
tall iris. At least thirty kinds of orchids have been found in Rhode Island 
swamps, including the Arethusa bulbosa, Pogonia, and Calopogon. Ever- 
green holly grows near the Great Swamp in North Kingstown (see 
Tour 3). Poison sumac, which should be carefully avoided, flourishes in 
almost every local swamp. 

The meadows of Rhode Island are covered with a great variety of 
grasses, weeds, and wiry sedges. Near Warwick there are whole fields of 
red deer-grass, and patches of the brown-centered yellow daisy. In many 
places in the State the meadows are white with wild carrot and white 
daisies. Three species of true lily may be seen the bright orange Turk's- 
cap, the nodding yellow Canadian, and the erect red Philadelphia. In 
the late summer, goldenrod, purple asters, and the three-fingered poison 
ivy turning red are common. On the sandy plain between Apponaug and 
Buttonwoods are many trailing blackberries and some wild indigo. 

The large wooded area of Rhode Island contains some of the most 
beautiful flowers in the State. The violet, Rhode Island's State flower, 
grows in yellow, white, and blue patches in the early spring, and some- 
times returns to bloom in late September. Nodding trilliums and the 
handsome columbine are to be found in Cumberland. Flowering dogwood 
blooms in the spring, and in South County one may come upon the great 
pinkish lavender blossoms of the rhododendron. Along the Kingston 
road near Matunuck the delicate fragrance of the blooming mountain 
laurel conies from the hills, which are covered with the white and pink 
blossoms (see Tour 1). 

Among the fungi found in Rhode Island are a number of species of 
mushrooms, some edible and some poisonous. In Roger Williams Park 
the lawn before Betsey Williams's cottage is marked with widening circles 
of the fairy-ring mushroom (see PROVIDENCE). Corn smut, which 
attacks only the flowers of its host plant, and puffballs may be found 
throughout the State. Rocks all over Rhode Island are being broken down 
by a variety of lichens. Among the mosses on tree bark, rocks, or even 
in the water, one may find every shade of green from the darkest to almost 
white. More than forty kinds of fern, including the maidenhair and the 
lime-loving walking fern, have been found in Rhode Island. The latter 
species, rare in eastern New England, occurs near Limerock. On the 

The Natural Setting 19 

many rocky cliffs of Little Compton the polypody fern may easily be 

Since the highest elevation in Rhode Island is about eight hundred feet, 
there are no alpine or sub-alpine species of flora. In general, the flora is 
similar to that in the neighboring States of Connecticut and Massachu- 


Representative specimens of every large division of the animal kingdom 
are to be found in Rhode Island. Unicellular animals, including the 
amoeba and the paramecium, abound in almost all the waters of the 
State. In lower Narragansett Bay may be found rocks encrusted with 
small unusable sponges, including some of the vase and finger types. The 
brilliantly colored Portuguese man-of-war, of the same large group as the 
sponges, is sometimes carried into Rhode Island waters by the Gulf 
Stream. Among the stinging animals a number of sea anemones may be 
found, especially on the low mud flats off the Colt Drive in Bristol. 
Jellyfish are common in the warm quiet water of Salt Pond near Wake- 
field, and in the clear ocean off Point Judith a type of stony coral may be 
seen collecting on the bottom. Marine worms burrow in the mud and 
sand along the shore, and the yard-long Cerebratulus lacteus is a common 
bait for fish. On the tide flats of East Greenwich and Warwick Neck the 
iridescent sandworm is common; like the earthworm found in the meadows 
and woods of the State, it is an annelid, a segmented animal. The common 
starfish lives in great numbers upon the oysters in lower Narragansett 
Bay. Sea cucumbers, which are members of the same phylum as the star- 
fish, may be dug out of the mud in Bristol. 

Among the crustaceans common to Rhode Island are barnacles, shrimp- 
like prawn, and many species of crab. The blue crab, delicious to eat, is 
often to be found near the mouths of rivers and streams flowing into the 
bay. But the most valuable crustacean found in Rhode Island waters is 
the lobster. 

Belonging to the same phylum as the squid, which is common in Rhode 
Island waters in season, are the clam, the mussel, and the oyster. The 
famous quahaug is a large hard-shelled clam whose numbers have been 
almost depleted except from Conimicut, the Kickemuit River, and East 
Greenwich Bay, where they are now protected by law. The quahaug is 

2O Rhode Island : The General Background 

larger than the common clam, and has a stronger flavor, but its neck is 
much shorter. As early as 1799 a small tract of the public domain was 
leased to private persons for the cultivation of oysters in Rhode Island. 
About six thousand acres are now leased for that purpose. Along the 
beaches may be found the shells of the slipper limpet or boat shell, peri- 
winkle, conch, oyster drill, and several kinds of snails. 

Among the primitive vertebrates found in Rhode Island are certain 
tunicates and wormlike balanoglossids. There are probably no lancelets, 
but sea squirts have been found in lower Narragansett Bay. 

The ponds and streams, as well as the marine waters of Rhode Island, 
provide a variety of habitats for fish. In the ocean off Block Island, sword- 
fish, bluefish, and sea bass are caught for both profit and sport. Up the 
bay near Newport occurs the annual run of scup, and the marine waters 
of the State may be successfully fished at almost any time for alewives, 
cod, eels, perch, and the fighting tautog. From the inland ponds and 
streams the small- and large-mouthed bass, white and yellow perch, and 
eels are to be caught (see Sports and Recreation). Also from these fresh 
waters may be drawn, after a battle, pickerel and trout. At the head of 
the Pettaquamscutt River lies the small village of Bridgetown, whose 
inhabitants smoke the herring which they catch in the annual runs. 

Among the amphibians and reptiles of Rhode Island are more than a 
dozen species of salamander, at least six species of frogs, and nine species 
of turtle. In muddy fresh-water ponds and streams both snapping and 
spotted turtles are common. Now and then in salt or brackish streams is 
found the diamond-back terrapin, and green marine turtles nearly six 
feet long have drifted into Rhode Island waters with the Gulf Stream. 
The box turtle, whose habitat is the dry land, and the wood terrapin are 
rare in Rhode Island. There are nearly twenty species of snakes in the 
State, ranging in size from the finger-length garter snakes to six-foot black- 
snakes in North Smithfield. Near Portsmouth and Little Compton there 
are banded rattlesnakes, and large ones have been seen in Smithfield; 
while the common hognose snake is to be found in many parts of the 

The spiders in Rhode Island range in size from the small gray garden 
varieties to the black and yellow species which grow to nearly two inches 
in length. There are great numbers of insects of the common varieties. 
The raising of honey bees is profitably carried on in many parts of the 
State. The insects destructive of many trees and shrubs in Rhode Island 
include the elm tree beetle, the Japanese beetle, the gypsy moth, and the 
brown-tailed moth. 

The Natural Setting 21 

Being a maritime State, Rhode Island is on the fringe of the migration 
route of the twenty-five or more species of shore birds, which have been 
saved from extermination by hunting restrictions. The State is, however, 
mostly southeast of the coastal migration route for small land birds, so 
that the number of spring and fall transients is disappointingly small. 
Because of its isolated position offshore, Block Island is an interesting 
' bird trap ' for transient migrants, particularly ducks, of all the numerous 
species that move up and down the Atlantic fly- way. 

Along the Connecticut border in the western part of Rhode Island are 
sections of land which either never have been cleared or have become 
overgrown again with scrub oak and underbrush. In this area throughout 
the year live the bluejay, the ruffed grouse, the barred and screech owls, 
and in the warmer months the robin, catbird, and flicker. A favorite 
haunt of the osprey is in the Touisset section of Warren, near the Massa- 
chusetts border. There are many terns and gulls. Among migratory 
birds found in the State are five species of ducks, the least sandpiper, the 
loon, and the American woodcock. Rhode Island, particularly around 
Touisset, seems to be a favorite haunt of the osprey. There are many 
terns and gulls of various species, and, in Newport County, so many 
pheasants that the market-gardeners are bothered. The State buys and 
releases ring-necked pheasants, and protects the hen pheasants by law. 


WHEN the white man came to the land which is now Rhode Island he 
found it in the possession of five Indian tribes the Narragansetts, 
Niantics, Nipmucks, Pequots, and Wampanoags. All of these tribes 
belonged, in a linguistic sense, to the great Algonquian family of North 
American Indians. The tribes were ruled by sachems, who exercised an 
authority which was often hereditary in practice if not in theory. The 
sachems married only women equal to them in birth, the 'royal' power 
passing to their descendants unless the heirs were notoriously unfit for 
the position. Under-sachems or sagamores ruled smaller bands within the 
tribe, these groups often taking their name from the locality in which they 
lived. Thus the Cowesets, near Greenwich, belonged to the Narragansetts, 
while the Nausets on Cape Cod came under the sway of the Wampanoags. 
The sagamores dealt justice in cases where individuals were concerned, 
but in important matters pertaining to the tribe as a whole the sachem 
held full power. He commonly dispatched culprits with his own hand, 
if the offense had been a serious one, and he administered whippings in 
minor cases. Although the Indians had no written law until after the 
coming of the white man, their customs were as unyielding as any code. 
Persons committing adultery, murder, or robbery were severely punished. 
Tribal ownership of land was sacred to them; should an Indian kill a deer 
on foreign soil, custom decreed that a part of the slain animal must be sent 
to the sachem ruling that territory. 

A system of counting from one to a hundred thousand by using grains 
of corn as counters, and the coining of money from shells, borrowed from 
Dutch trappers, were customs common to the Narragansetts when Roger 
Williams first became acquainted with them. Their currency was made 
from seashells gathered during the summer, and then in winter worked 
into the beadlike coins known as wampum, which was so often used by 
the white colonists that it came to have a set value in relation to European 
coins. White wampum was made of the inner shell of the periwinkle, 
broken into small beads and strung upon a sinew; it was valued at six 
pieces to the English penny. Black wampum came from a part of the 
quahaug or round clam shell; three pieces were worth a penny. Fascinated 
by the decorative patterns these wampum beads could form, the Indians 

The Indians 23 

wore belts and other trappings made thereof. Considerable ingenuity was 
used in the drilling and polishing of the beads. Roger Williams remarked 
that the ingenuity also extended to counterfeiting the black wampum from 
stone. Otherwise the Indians used stone for the manufacture of all sorts 
of useful implements such as axes, chisels, gouges, arrowheads, pestles and 
mortars, and ornamented pipes. Many of these implements are preserved 
as relics in local museums. In addition to visiting the museums, everyone 
interested in Indian life should read Williams's ' Key Into the Language of 
America,' published in London in 1643. This book is not a mere dictionary 
of definitions, but a most entertaining description of Indian life; it has 
been reprinted several times since the first edition. 

In the weaving of baskets and nets the Indians were very skillful, and 
there seems to have been a division of labor in this field, some Indians 
making only one sort of article and selling or trading it for other products. 
Earthen dishes were baked in fire, but the red man's most skillful use of 
flame came in the making of hollowed-log canoes, which were manu- 
factured from tree trunks by a method of charring and gouging. These 
craft were ordinarily propelled by paddles, though sometimes in running 
before the wind a coat or mat was used as a sail. The Indians were 
ardent and skillful fishermen, using bone hooks, nets, and spears. Ac- 
cording to Roger Williams, they were good swimmers also, for when their 
cranky craft upset they could swim a distance of t two miles to shore.' 

Tribes hunted deer in bands, beating the cover to drive the animals out. 
They also set traps and deadfalls for other game, and were great hunters 
of birds. Roots and berries formed a large part of their diet, and they 
made a bread of crushed strawberries and meal. Corn, beans, and squash 
were cultivated in fields. Forty or fifty women would often co-operate in 
preparing the fields for planting. They plowed with sharp sticks and did 
not attempt stump-grubbing, preferring to girdle the bark of a tree, thus 
killing it so the sun could filter through the dead branches. Corn was the 
staple article of diet in winter months, being pounded by hand into a 
coarse meal and stored in bags or baskets. A warrior could carry several 
days' supply of food in a belt about his waist, for a handful of corn, 
moistened with water, made a fairly satisfactory meal. The raising of 
tobacco was the only form of agriculture that the men carried on, but 
that was important, since every man carried his pipe and tobacco in a bag 
about his neck. Tobacco was much esteemed by the Indian as a remedy 
for toothache and a preventive of rheumatism. 

The Indian woman cultivated the fields, tanned the hides of slain 
animals, carried her youngest child strapped to a board on her back. She 

24 Rhode Island : The General Background 

collected and dried the berries and roots for winter storage, and manu- 
factured shoes and leggings of deerskin. She was not ill-treated by her 
husband, who gave her parents a dowry when he took her to his house. 
Though monogamy was generally practiced, polygamy was not forbidden; 
some of the sachems had several wives, for a wife by her labor in the field 
produced riches. The Indians indulged their children; Roger Williams 
commented that the little boys and girls were often very insolent owing 
to lack of discipline. 

The Indian house was characterized by its portability and imperma- 
nence. A circle of upright poles was erected and the tops were tied to- 
gether in a clump. This framework was covered with mats of bark or skin, 
made by the women. The Anterior was hung with mats or skins decorated 
with designs in crude colors. The Indians knew and used the colors of 
white, black, red, yellow, green, and blue. The skins commonly used by 
them were deer, moose, raccoon, wolf, otter, beaver, and squirrel. Their 
showiest wearing apparel was a coat of turkey feathers, made by the old 
men instead of the women. Male children went naked for the first ten or 
twelve years, while little girls wore an apron 'of a hand's breadth' from 
birth. During cooler weather, both children and adults wore a skin cloak, 
leggings, and deerskin shoes. Inside the Indian house, baskets and bags 
took the place of shelves, while mats served as a bed. A hole in the top of 
the shelter was the chimney for the cooking fire in the center of the house. 
The term 'wigwam' was never used by the Indians; it is the white man's 
corruption of wetuomuck, meaning 'at their home' or 'at home.' Some- 
times the houses were oblong instead of round, with several chimney 
holes, to accommodate a number of family cooking arrangements. Long 
houses were occasionally erected for great feasts. In summer the Indians 
moved from field to field, packing up and moving when the fleas became 
too numerous or the ground too dusty. In winter they moved into wooded 
bottom lands, away from the bitter winds. It was not uncommon to find 
twenty or more villages in the course of a twenty-mile walk. 

The Indians were fond of gossip and lavish in their hospitality. A 
meeting on a trail was the signal for the smoking of pipes and the exchang- 
ing of news. They played games in which entire tribes took part. One 
game was similar to football, and another was played with small sticks or 
bones resembling dice. Having no horses or other beasts of burden, they 
traveled long distances on foot, and from this training they were notable 

Against sickness they were comparatively helpless, relying on the 
medicine man and his incantations, and attributing misfortune to 

The Indians 25 

capriciousness or desire for vengeance on the part of some one of their 
many gods. One vigorous remedy which they did employ was a sort of 
Turkish bath, commonly known as the sweat bath, which had a wide 
distribution throughout North America. A small hut was plastered 
nearly airtight with mud, heated stones were placed inside, and water 
was poured over them. The Indians stayed in the steam and heat until 
nearly suffocated; then they dashed out to plunge into a pond or river. 
When a person was sick, the women of his family smeared themselves with 
soot and black earth, and upon a death the men of the family likewise 
went into mourning. The mockuttasuit, or funeral director, generally an 
old man of dignity and position, prepared the body for burial in the 
ground. The mat upon which the body lay was buried with it, together 
with an earthen dish belonging to the deceased. Often a coat belonging 
to the dead man or woman was hung on a near-by tree limb, there to 
remain undisturbed until it rotted. A sacrifice was made to the gods; it is 
recorded that Canonicus, sachem of the Narragansetts, burned his house, 
and all his possessions in it, as an offering when a son died. The name of 
a dead man was never spoken, and the taking of that name by members 
of another tribe was held just cause for war. The death of any person was 
cause enough for moving a village. 

The Indian gods of this locality were at least thirty-eight in number; 
among these were the deities representing earth, fire, water, feast, famine, 
and the dance. Cowtantowit was the supreme god, and it was to him that the 
annual public feast of thanksgiving was held in gratitude for the fruits of 
the harvest. Legend says that a crow, a sacred bird to the Indians, first 
brought to them a single grain of corn and a bean from the field of Cow- 
tantowit, who lived far in the southwest. Gods were never represented by 
images, for they were held to be ghosts. 

The warrior's weapons were the spear, bow and arrow, and the club. 
Indians were brave in warfare, but treacherous according to the white 
man's standards, since they held that the basest trickery or deceit was 
not dishonorable if directed against a foe. The bond of lineal brother- 
hood was the strongest personal relationship, a brother often paying the 
debts of a dead brother, and even giving his life in atonement for a 
brother's crime. 

By their own rather high estimate, there were thirty thousand Indians 
in Rhode Island when the white man came. Historical evidence points 
to the conclusion that the local Indians were a fairly prosperous and happy 
people who, after forty years of rum and civilization, found themselves 
hunted, murdered, or sold into slavery so that the white man could 
occupy their lands. 

26 Rhode Island : The General Background 

Of the five historic tribes which had some connection with Rhode 
Island, we know least about the Nipmucks. References to this tribe, or 
collection of small bands, appear frequently in early narratives, but no 
one has yet reconstructed their history or culture with any completeness. 
Most of the Nipmucks ranged over central Massachusetts, but some of 
them lived at one time in northern Rhode Island. In the middle seven- 
teenth century New England missionaries made efforts to Christianize 
them, but these efforts did not prevent the Nipmucks from joining with 
the Wampanoags and others in King Philip's War. At the close of hostili- 
ties in 1676, most of the Nipmucks fled westward or to Canada. A few 
scattered bands incorporated themselves with the tribes which remained 
friendly to the white man, but the Nipmucks as a distinct family lost their 
identity at that time. 

The Pequots, most of whom lived in southeastern Connecticut, were 
practically exterminated as a tribe in 1637, only seventeen years after the 
first permanent white settlement was made in New England. Fierce 
fighters and trouble-makers, the Pequots were fomenting a scheme to 
wipe out the white man when Roger Williams first appeared in Rhode 
Island and prevailed upon the Narragansetts to ally themselves with the 
English colonists and a friendly group of the Connecticut Mohegans. The 
resulting hostilities of 1637 broke the Pequot power; many of the survivors 
fled from southern New England, while others remained as wards of the 
English on a reservation in Connecticut. 

The Rhode Island Niantics (there was also a Connecticut branch) oc- 
cupied the southern part of the State under the rule of Ninigret, who kept 
his followers out of most of the troubles which took place between the 
natives and the whites. Ninigret, cousin of the Narragansett sagamore 
Miantonomi, was described by Increase Mather as 'an old crafty sachem/ 
Certain it is that he preserved pride and property without fighting for 
either. He first appeared in history in 1637, when he visited Boston to 
discuss the Pequot situation. In 1647 he again visited 'Boston, this time 
to sign a treaty ending his war with the Mohegans. In 1652 he visited 
the Dutch at Manhattan, and during the next few years warred with the 
Montauk Indians on Long Island. By abstaining from personal activity 
in King Philip's War, he secured for himself and his heirs some tribal 
lands near Charlestown. To this sanctuary came also the remnants of the 
Narragansett tribe. Ninigret, who was one of the few sachems of his 
period to die of old age, is reputed to have told a Christian missionary to 
'go and make the English good, first.' 

The name Nfantic was lost when the colonists came to refer to the 

The Indians 27 

Indians occupying the tribal lands, or Charlestown reservation, as Narra- 
gansetts. An influx of Negro blood was rapid, so that by 1852 few Indians 
of pure blood remained in the State. The reservation passed from ex- 
istence in 1879. Though the descendants of the tribal remnants hold 
a ceremony or pow-wow every year (see Tour 10), the assimilation of 
Indian blood is evident in the fact that the so-called ' Narragansetts ' come 
from all walks of life. Present-day Indians, and those of Indian descent, 
have served with distinction as Rhode Island soldiers and sailors, so that 
the possession of Indian blood is rightly held in esteem. 

The Narragansetts, or l the People of the Small Point/ were the most 
powerful tribe in Rhode Island, occupying most of the State and claiming 
control over the Nipmuck and part of the Mohegan territory. They 
numbered about five thousand in 1674. Escaping the pestilence of 1617, 
which weakened the once stronger Wampanoags, they had won the islands 
in Narragansett Bay from that tribe, and were engaged in war with them 
when Roger Williams appeared on the scene. He helped to make peace 
between Canonicus, sachem of the Narragansetts, and Massasoit, head 
of the Wampanoags. These two rulers also maintained peaceful relations 
with the white men of the Bay Colony and of Rhode Island. Canonicus 
had sent to the Pilgrims in 1622, as was the custom when strangers ap- 
peared, the usual challenge to war in the form of a bundle of arrows tied 
up in a snakeskin. Tradition says that the snakeskin was politely re- 
turned, filled with powder and lead. No hostilities resulted. 

Roger Williams received title to his lands from Canonicus, who died 
in 1647, aged about eighty years. Canonicus' nephew, Miantonomi, was 
the old sachem's right-hand man until his own death in 1643. He was 
constantly suspected of disloyalty to the English, but he managed to clear 
himself of definite charges when summoned to Boston in 1640 and 1642. 
He was much impressed by the preaching of Roger Williams. Mian- 
tonomi was captured by the Mohegans in 1643 and sent to Hartford for 
trial; Hartford sent him to Boston, where he was condemned to death, 
and delivered to his enemy Uncas for execution. 

At the time of King Philip's War, 1675-76, the Narragansetts were 
ruled by Canonchet, descended through a collateral line from Canonicus. 
The Narragansetts at first took no part in the war, except to harbor 
refugee Wampanoags, but when the colonists descended upon them in 
December, 1675, the Narragansetts actively supported the native cause 
against the rising tide of white dominion. Canonchet became the real 
leader of the Indian raids against the white settlements while King Philip 
was in northern New England. He was captured and executed near 

28 Rhode Island: The General Background 

Stonington, Connecticut, in the spring of 1676, his head being sent to 
Hartford as a trophy. He was described by Williams as a 'hopeful spark,' 
and two remarks of his have come down to us which make it evident that 
he was very much of a person. When asked in 1675 to deliver up some 
fugitives he refused thus, * Not a Wampanoag, or the paring of a Wam- 
panoag nail.' When told he was to be executed he said, 'I shall die before 
my heart is soft, or I have said anything unworthy of myself.' 

The last member of the Narragansett ' royal ' line was Quaiapen, a sister 
of Ninigret. She also lost her life in 1676. Historians have described her 
as 'an old piece of venom' rather than a romantic Indian princess. With 
her death the Narragansetts were broken up as a tribe. Some fled west- 
ward, others went to Canada. In 1682 a party of about one hundred was 
at Albany, New York, seeking permission to return to Rhode Island in 
peace; later they joined the Niantics. A number of Narragansetts went 
with the miscellaneous group called the Brotherton Indians, a mixed 
band led by Samson Occom, a Christian Indian minister. In 1833 the 
Brothertons removed from Oneida County, New York, to the shores of 
Green Bay, Wisconsin, where they abandoned tribal organization and 
became citizens. 

The Wampanoags under Massasoit and his sons Wamsutta (or Alex- 
ander) and Metacom (or King Philip) occupied the east shore of Narra- 
gansett Bay and the adjacent parts of Massachusetts, including Cape 
Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard. Relations between the two 
races were peaceable during the life of Massasoit, but after his death in 
1662 the red men came to have many grievances against their white 
neighbors. For one thing, Wamsutta died under conditions which made 
Philip believe he had been mistreated. In general, the common English 
practices of debauching the Indians with strong drink, tricking them into 
signing away their lands, and endeavoring to make them surrender their 
arms (Treaty of Taunton, 1671) led to a determination on the red man's 
part to expel the whites from the country. King Philip is often charged with 
having fomented a widespread conspiracy against the English ; it is more 
probable that the Indians spontaneously arose because of grievances 
which they had harbored for a number of years. 

The Wampanoags began at Swansea, Massachusetts, in June, 1675, the 
most destructive Indian war New England ever experienced a war 
that had extermination as its object and that, but for the treachery of 
some Indians to their own race, might have succeeded. Of the ninety 
settlements in New England at the time, fifty-two were attacked, and 
thirteen almost wholly destroyed. Six hundred colonists, or one in every 

The Indians 29 

eleven able to bear arms, were killed, together with numbers of women 
and children. More than six hundred houses were burned, and the ex- 
pense of the war to Plymouth Colony alone amounted to more than 
100,000, an enormous sum in those days. The end for the Indian was the 
breaking up of his tribes, slavery, flight, or death. 

King Philip's War raged for two years, with sporadic outbursts for 
some time afterward. One of the decisive battles was fought on Rhode 
Island soil, and many settlements were devastated. The aged Governor 
Coddington was a Quaker, and thus was reluctant to give military assistance 
to Providence and the more exposed settlements. The island of Newport 
became a refuge for those who fled their homes. In Providence, however, 
Roger Williams, who was also more than seventy years of age, became an 
officer in a military band. At first the Narragansetts were neutral, though 
they sheltered many Wampanoag women and children and provided a few 
warriors for Philip's raids. Owing to the certainty that the entire Narra- 
gansett tribe would be drawn into the war at some time, the military 
officers of Massachusetts and Connecticut determined to carry hostilities 
into the Narragansetts' country before the Indians were in a position to 
strike with force. 

The result was the Great Swamp Fight, on December 19, 1675, in which 
soldiers from all of the southern New England colonies (Rhode Islanders 
taking part with some reluctance) attacked and destroyed the Narra- 
gansetts' winter camp near the present West Kingston (see Tour 3). 
After burning the winter supplies of the Indians, the colonists made their 
way back to the easterly settlements, suffering intensely from the cold on 
their march. Joshua Tift, a renegade white friend of the Indians, was 
captured and tried in Providence. Suspected of having supervised the 
construction of the Indian fort, he was condemned and hanged ' a sad 
wretch, he never heard a sermon but once these fourteen years.' 

In the spring of 1676, all the outlying houses in Warwick, and a good 
many of those in Providence, were burned by the infuriated Narra- 
gansetts. Roger Williams lost his house, but as recompense for his part hi 
endeavoring to keep the Narragansetts out of the war and for aiding the 
Colonial cause in general, Massachusetts suspended the decree of banish- 
ment against him for the duration of the war. 

The fortunes of war turned against the Indians after the death of 
Canonchet later in the spring. Captain Benjamin Church hunted down 
the elusive Philip, the chase ending in a swamp near the foot of Mount 
Hope (see BRISTOL), where Philip was shot by an Indian ally of the 
white officer. Church also captured Anawon, Philip's brother-in-law, 

3O Rhode Island : The General Background 

near Taunton. After the death of Quaiapen in a battle at Warwick, July, 
1676, the war was practically over. King Philip was not a great military 
leader, but he was in many respects an admirable man. His family was 
sold into slavery, and Philip's head, cut from his dead body, was exposed 
on a pole in Plymouth. 

The imprint of the Indian survives in Rhode Island today chiefly in 
the many names derived from Indian usage. The city of Woonsocket 
takes its name from Miswosakit, the Indian term for the present Woon- 
socket Hill in the adjacent town of North Smithfield; according to Roger 
Williams, the term meant 'at the very steep hill.' The present Conanicut 
Island is named for the Narragansett sachem Canonicus. Pawtucket, the 
name of the large city just north of Providence, meant to the Indians 
'waterfall place.' Apponaug, a village in modern Warwick, meant 'shell- 
fish,' and existing banks of clamshell dust there attest to the Indian use 
of this place as a site for 'shore dinners.' The present Sakonnet, in 
southern Little Compton, is said to be a modernized version of an Indian 
phrase meaning the 'haunt of the wild goose,' and a somewhat similar 
derivation is given for the name of the Seekonk River between Providence 
and East Providence. The subject of modern derivations from Indian 
names is a fascinating hobby, but one which requires a very thorough 
knowledge of the old native languages. 

There are few Indian archeological remains in the State. The mounds 
at Charlestown, called Ninigret's Fort (see Tour 1), were once regarded as 
prehistoric. They were dedicated as Indian relics in 1883, but are now 
considered to be the remains of a Dutch trading fort. Queen's Fort, west 
of Wickford Junction (see Tour 3), is an authentic Indian fortification, 
made by piling stones into an irregularly shaped wall. 

Recently there has come to light an archeological discovery which may 
indicate the human occupation of Rhode Island at a time long before the 
days of the historic Indian tribes known to the first white settlers. On the 
homestead of Mr. William T. Ide, 2585 Pawtucket Avenue, East Provi- 
dence, a Folsom point was found in the spring of 1936. Folsom points 
were discovered near Folsom, New Mexico (hence the name), about ten 
years ago, and are considered by some archeologists to date back about 
twelve thousand years. The New Mexican points were found with the 
bones of an extinct species of bison, but one which may have been alive 
as late as the fourteenth century A.D. Mr. Ide's specimen is the first one 
found in Rhode Island. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington has 
stated that this is a very good example of the eastern type of Folsom 
point, and that it is composed of black chert which may have been from 

The Indians 31 

a piece of glacial float. It is still a moot question, however, what conclu- 
sions are to be drawn from this discovery. 

There are at least three important private collections of Indian relics in 
Rhode Island, and three collections open to the public; namely, those at 
the Rhode Island Historical Society and the Roger Williams Park Mu- 
seum in Providence, and that at the Museum of Primitive Culture in 
Peace Dale (see Tour 1). 



THE first white settlement within the present borders of Rhode Island 
was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams. Oppressed by the Puritanism of 
Massachusetts, he had fled to the upper Narragansett Bay region, and 
others following his example migrated in 1638 to lands farther south on 
the bay. Rhode Island's corporate history may be said to have begun in 
1647, when representatives of the four new towns of Providence, Ports- 
mouth, Newport, and Warwick formed the first general assembly, at which 
measures were adopted for common peace and security. 

The land which is now the State of Rhode Island had, of course, been 
visited by white men long before the arrival of Williams. The Portuguese 
navigator Miguel Cortereal was probably on the coast in 1511; and 
Giovanni da Verrazano, the Florentine navigator sailing for France, 
visited Narragansett Bay in 1524. Dutch adventurers and traders came 
to this vicinity early in the seventeenth century. Block Island is named 
for Captain Adriaen Block, who sailed along the coast in the ' Onrust ' in 
1614, and Dutch traders continued to visit Rhode Island shores for some 
time thereafter. William Blackstone, an Anglican clergyman, settled in 
what is now Cumberland about a year before Williams' arrival, but 
Blackstone cannot be considered a real founder of the State. He gathered 
no band of colonists about him at his farm on Study Hill, and the land 
he settled on was a part of Massachusetts until 1747. 

The best known of the Colony's founders, Roger Williams, was born 
in England about 1603. As a young man he was a protege of Sir Edward 
Coke's. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, and then became 
a chaplain to Sir William Masham (of the Massachusetts Bay Company), 
who married a daughter of Lady Joan (Cromwell) Barrington, an aunt of 
Oliver Cromwell. Young Williams hence had ample opportunity to be 
come acquainted with the reform movement which soon after came into 
prominence in the struggle between Parliament and King Charles I. 
Since he had also acquired liberal theological ideas, he considered it wise 
to leave England, where dissenters from the Anglican Church were often 

History 33 

persecuted. Leaving the mother country on the ship 'Lyon,' near the 
end of 1630, he came to America with his wife, Mary Barnard, landing at 
Boston, Massachusetts, on February 9, 1631. Williams refused a call to 
serve as a teacher in the Boston church, partly on the ground that its 
members still held communion with the Anglican Church. He served for 
a short time as assistant in the church at Salem, and spent about two 
years in Plymouth, where he became acquainted with Massasoit and 
Canonicus, sachems of the Wampanoag and Narragansett tribes. 

It was after his return to Salem in the summer of 1633 that Williams 
came into serious conflict with the Puritan leaders of Massachusetts. He 
denied the right of civil magistrates to inflict punishment for breaches of 
religious discipline ; he declared that the King of England could not give 
away lands belonging to the Indians; and he refused to take the oaths 
required of Massachusetts inhabitants. Because of these beliefs, Williams 
was banished from the Bay Colony on October 9, 1635, though he was 
granted permission to remain until the following spring on condition that 
he cease preaching ' seditious ' doctrines. Unable to remain silent, he fled 
from Salem in January, 1636, just in time to avoid arrest and immediate 
deportation to England. Leaving his wife and family in Salem, he took 
to 'a narrow Indian path' which led to Sowams (Warren), the head- 
quarters of Massasoit. Williams settled first on the east side of the See- 
konk River, at what is now East Providence, where he was joined by 
William Harris, John Smith, Francis Wickes, Joshua Verein, and Thomas 
Angell the latter a young serving lad of Richard Waterman's. In- 
formed that the land belonged to Plymouth, he moved in June, 1636, to 
the banks of the Moshassuck River, and in commemoration of 'God's 
providence to him in his distress,' he named the new settlement Provi- 
dence. It is to be noted that the ideal of 'soul liberty' or religious tolera- 
tion which we commonly associate with Roger Williams was developed in 
practice in Rhode Island in 1636; neither Williams nor any of his Massa- 
chusetts contemporaries held that freedom of conscience was a cause of 
his banishment, though actually it was an important underlying cause. 

Williams proceeded to turn the former Indian country at Providence 
into a typical English plantation. He secured a deed to a large tract of 
land, which was essentially the present Providence County save the part 
that lies east of the Blackstone River. Williams acquired this tract as his 
own personal property, though it was not his intention to administer it for 
profit. In the fall of 1638, he associated with himself twelve other settlers 
Stukely Westcott, William Arnold, Thomas James, Robert Cole, John 
Greene, John Throckmorton, William Carpenter, William Harris, Thomas 

34 Rhode Island : The General Background 

Olney, Francis Weston, Richard Waterman, and Ezekiel Holyman as 
'the Proprietors' Company for Providence Plantations.' 

Providence was a simple democracy in which the heads of families met 
fortnightly to consult about planting, keeping watch, and similar matters; 
but as settlement increased, this form of government became inadequate. 
In 1637 there was drawn up under Williams' influence a plantation 
covenant, somewhat similar to the ' Mayflower Compact ' of the Pilgrims. 
It bound its subscribers to obey such rules as should be made by the 
majority but 'only in civill things.' The only officers were a treasurer 
and a clerk, and for some time there were no courts or constables. Such 
an elementary democracy contained within it possibilities of danger, 
hence in 1640 it was agreed to have a board of governors, called Disposers, 
who would conduct the general business of the plantation, subject to the 
control of the town meeting. Shortly before this, in March, 1639, an 
event of great importance in religious history took place, when Williams, 
Ezekiel Holyman (or Holliman), and ten others founded the first Baptist 
Society in America. It is related that Holyman first baptized Williams, 
who then baptized Holyman and the ten others. This was undoubtedly 
the first baptismal ceremony by immersion in America. Although he 
took a leading part in the founding of the American Baptist Church, 
Williams' interest ia the movement was short-lived; he doubted the 
validity of his baptism, and became a ' Seeker ' one who, dissatisfied 
with the regular organization of any one church, sought instead the good 
elements to be found in all ecclesiastical systems. Until death, he re- 
mained a ' Seeker,' ever disturbed in mind and often controversial. 

Portsmouth and Newport were the next towns founded after Provi- 
dence. Two former residents of Massachusetts, John Clarke and William 
Coddington, had a prominent part in the settling of both. Clarke was 
a physician and Coddington a man of wealth and position, who with some 
others were ordered to leave Massachusetts in the spring of 1638 because 
of their sympathy with Anne Hutchinson. This new company of exiles 
came by boat to Providence, where they consulted with Williams regard- 
ing a place of settlement. In March they secured an Indian deed to the 
island of Aquidneck. Before leaving Boston for their own plantation, 
Coddington and Clarke drew up a compact for a theocratic form of 
government; they were men of greater business experience and of more 
autocratic tendencies than either Williams or Samuel Gorton, the 
founder of Warwick. 

About the first of April, 1638, this group took possession of the north 
end of Aquidneck, calling their settlement Pocasset, but later renaming 

History 35 

it Portsmouth. To this new Colony came Anne Hutchinson with a num- 
ber of her followers, exiles from Massachusetts. A struggle for political 
power between Coddington and Mrs. Hutchinson ensued in which Cod- 
dington was defeated, after which he and his followers moved southward in 
May, 1639, and founded Newport. Those remaining at Portsmouth 
established a new government based on English rather than Mosaic law. 
In March, 1640, however, the two towns united under a common rule, 
federal in nature, with Coddington as Governor. At the general Court of 
Election held in March, 1644, it was ordered that the island called Aquid- 
neck should henceforth be known as the Isle of Rhodes, or Rhode Island. 
This was the first official use of the name ' Rhode Island ' as applied to a 
part of the present State. 

Samuel Gorton, the founder of Warwick, was also an exile from Massa- 
chusetts. This man, who has described himself as 'a citizen of London, 
clothier, professor of the mysteries of Christ, and De Primo/ was banished 
from Plymouth in December, 1638, for opposing the magistrates, who had 
censured the conduct of his maid servant. Coming to Portsmouth, he 
also quarreled with the authorities there, and so he moved to Providence, 
where he was refused admission as an ' inhabitant ' or legal citizen because 
of his tendency to disturb the peace. After many difficulties with the 
Providence leaders, he moved to Pawtuxet, and in January, 1645, to 
Shawomet or Warwick. Soldiers from Massachusetts broke up his settle- 
ment in the following summer, and took him to Boston for trial as a 
heretic. He was kept in chains and at hard labor during the winter; then 
upon his release hi the spring he went to Portsmouth again. He secured 
the submission of the Narragansett sachems to the authority of the Eng- 
lish Crown on April 19, 1644. Gorton made a trip to England later in 
the year, and obtained an order from the Earl of Warwick guaranteeing 
him freedom from molestation at Shawomet; thither he returned in 1648, 
naming the reorganized settlement Warwick in honor of his benefactor. 

Thus the early history of Rhode Island is the story of four separate 
communities, each acting in large degree independently of the others. To 
gain greater protection against outside dangers, Roger Williams went to 
England in 1643 to secure a charter which would give the Colony a legal 
basis for existence. He took a ship from New Amsterdam (New York) 
in June, and in the following March he obtained the Colony's first charter, 
granted by a parliamentary commission headed by the Earl of Warwick. 
After his return to Rhode Island in the fall of 1644, Williams left Provi- 
dence for a time and lived at a trading house near Wickford, where he 
hoped to raise money to pay the expenses of his trip abroad (see Tour 1). 

36 Rhode Island : The General Background 

The charter created ' The Incorporation of Providence Plantations in the 
Narragansett Bay in New England,' which included Providence, New- 
port, and Portsmouth, but not Warwick. Although the latter settlement 
was not named in the charter, Warwick was by common consent admitted 
to the same privileges as the others at the opening of the first legislative 
session May 19-21, 1647. 


One would suppose that the boundaries of a State only 1084 square 
miles in area could have been settled without difficulty, yet they were not 
finally established until more than 260 years after the founding of Provi- 
dence. Rufus Choate once declared that the boundaries of Rhode Island 
might as well have been marked on the north by a bramblebush, on the 
south by a bluejay, on the west by a hive of bees in swarming time, and 
on the east by five hundred foxes with firebrands tied to their tails. The 
difficulty was due in part to the fact that in early days independent groups 
of settlers acquired lands from the Indians by vaguely worded deeds, in 
part to the disloyal action of some inhabitants who placed their estates 
under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts or Connecticut, and lastly to the 
continual controversies with the neighboring States over the exact location 
of the lines established by court decrees or arbitrations. 

Shortly after the founding of Providence, Roger Williams made an 
agreement with the Narragansett chieftain Canonicus for the use of lands 
lying along the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck, and Pawtuxet Rivers, 
and extending north along the Seekonk River to Pawtucket Falls (con- 
firmed by written deed in March, 1638). By 1659 other Indian convey- 
ances had enlarged this grant so that it included most of what is now 
Providence County west of the Blackstone River, and some of the small 
islands in Narragansett Bay. In March, 1638, William Coddington and 
others secured another extensive grant, also from Canonicus, including 
Aquidneck (the Island of Rhode Island) ; and early in 1643, Samuel Gorton 
and others purchased from the Narragansetts the territory called Shawo- 
met (Warwick). These separate communities, as noted above, soon be- 
came politically united, so that conflicts arising from Indian conveyances 
disappeared, but disputes with rival English settlements caused much 
greater trouble. From 1642 to 1658, lands lying along the Pawtuxet and 
the Pawtucket Rivers, belonging in part to the Arnold family, were 


SINCE history is the sum total of human experience these 
glimpses into the past have been limited to a few outstanding 
scenes. For the sake of convenience this group of illustrations 
is centered around political and martial heroes; the broader 
aspects of Rhode Island's cultural heritage are shown in suc- 
ceeding groups. 

When Roger Williams founded Providence in the summer of 
1636, his neighbors, the Narragansett Indians, were proba- 
bly living in villages like the one shown in the Goddard Park 
reconstruction, erected during the State's Tercentenary Cele- 
bration of 1936. 

Five illustrations belong to the Revolutionary era: showing, 
in the burning of the ' Gaspee,' Rhode Island's first bold act 
of defiance against English rule; the last Colonial governor, 
Joseph Wanton, who was deposed in 1775; a mariner's map 
of Narragansett Bay made during the years when the British 
and our French allies were fighting for the control of this 
valuable naval base; Nathanael Greene, the State's great 
Revolutionary general, and an interior view of his home in 

The Oliver Hazard Perry House brings to mind Rhode Is- 
land's naval hero in the War of 1812. 

The State's only internal rebellion centers around Thomas 
W. Dorr's threat to the administration of Governor Samuel 
Ward King. 

Views of the city of Providence and Brown University as they 
appeared nearly a century ago are followed by a modern 
photo of the present State Capitol. 









**7V ^\ 

Jr* \/V 















CITY or ruovmivNci: K.I 



History 37 

voluntarily placed by their owners under the rule of Massachusetts, and 
for much of the time between 1659 and 1671 the Atherton Company, 
which held approximately the eastern half of North Kingstown, con- 
sidered its territory to be under the control of Connecticut. 

The main boundary line between Rhode Island and Connecticut became 
an active source of controversy in 1662, when the latter Colony received 
a royal charter extending its eastern limits to 'the Narragansett River 
commonly called Narragansett Bay.' The Rhode Island agent in England 
at the time, John Clarke, realized that this addition to Connecticut would 
nearly obliterate his own Colony, so he insisted that the 'Narragansett 
River' was the Pawcatuck. Governor Winthrop, who represented Con- 
necticut in London, agreed to this interpretation, hence the new Rhode 
Island Charter of 1663 named the Pawcatuck River as the southern part 
of the intercolonial boundary. Winthrop's concession was later repudiated 
by the Connecticut Assembly; and to complicate matters further, the 
royal commissioners who visited Rhode Island in 1665 decided that the 
disputed territory should belong to neither colony but to the King, though 
Rhode Island might exercise jurisdiction over it (King's Province) for 
the time being. Controversies with Connecticut over the Pawcatuck 
River raged until 1703, when a commission meeting at Stonington agreed 
on a line, confirmed by King George on February 8, 1727, and finally 
adjusted September 27, 1728, which was substantially the same boundary 
that exists today. 

The original boundary of Rhode Island on the north was, in theory, 
the southern limit of Massachusetts as defined in the latter's charter of 
1629. Some markers were erected in Wrentham in 1642 to indicate this 
line, but the result was not satisfactory to either party. Commissioners 
representing the two Colonies agreed in 1711 to accept the charter bound- 
ary (under the new Massachusetts Charter of 1691), and a line was run in 
1719 which proved, however, to be very inaccurate. Other eighteenth- 
century attempts to agree on a division met with little success. 

Most of what is now eastern Rhode Island was originally claimed by 
Plymouth Colony, and then by Massachusetts when the former Colony 
was merged (1691) with the latter. An eastern boundary between Rhode 
Island and Massachusetts was agreed upon by a royal commission meeting 
at Providence in 1741, and confirmed by royal decree five years later. 
Although not wholly satisfactory to Rhode Island, the decision did award 
to the Colony the ' Attleboro Gore,' or what amounts to the present town 
of Cumberland. Disputes touching lands along the eastern shore of 
Narragansett Bay continued for more than a century. The whole dispute 

38 Rhode Island : The General Background 

with Massachusetts reached the Supreme Court in 1846, where it was 
decided largely in favor of Massachusetts; but since the parties were then 
unable to agree on a line following the judicial interpretation, a second 
decree was sought from the court in 1861. By the later decision, January 
23, 1 86 1, Rhode Island received part of Pawtucket and East Providence, 
Massachusetts being given Fall River. The northern boundary with 
Massachusetts was finally established on March 22, 1883, and the eastern 
boundary on June 3, 1899. The western boundary line was finally estab- 
lished on May 5, 1887. 


The first assembly of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence 
Plantations met at Portsmouth on May 19-21, 1647. The chief executive 
was called President, and until 1663 the office was held most of the time 
by Newport men, John Coggeshall being the first. Newport was the 
largest town in the Colony in 1647, having about three hundred inhabitants 
while Providence had about two hundred. Coddington went to England 
in 1648, and secured in 1651 a special commission making him Governor 
of Aquidneck an innovation which aroused so much opposition that 
the commission was vacated in 1652, though the four towns did not unite 
again for general legislation until 1654. Roger Williams was instrumental 
in securing the revocation of the Coddington commission; he was in 
England, for a second visit on behalf of the Colony, from 1651 to 1654. 
On his return to America in the latter year, he was made President of the 
reunited settlements, holding that position until May, 1657. He died in 
1683, sometime between January 16 and March 15. 

In 1655, there were two hundred and forty-seven freemen (qualified 
voters) in Rhode Island, ninety-six of whom lived in Newport. In the 
summer of 1657, the first Quakers came to the Colony, where they found 
a refuge generally denied them elsewhere in British America. Missionary 
zeal led them to brave the anti-Quaker laws of Massachusetts, as a result 
of which Mary Dyer was hanged at Boston in the spring of 1660. Al- 
though Roger Williams did not favor the Quaker sect, his ideal of religious 
freedom forbade him to take legal measures against them. However, he 
did engage in a three-day debate with Quaker spokesmen at Newport in 
1671, hoping to convince the Friends of their errors. 

With the restoration of Charles II to the English throne in 1660, Rhode 

History 39 

Island felt it advisable to secure a royal charter to replace the parliamen- 
tary grant. This aim was accomplished in 1663, and the charter continued 
in force until 1843 a term of one hundred and eighty years. The 
charter contained the following clause relating to religious liberty: 

That our loyall will and pleasure is, that noe person within the said 
colonye, at any tyme hereafter shall be anywise molested, punished, dis- 
quieted or called in question for any differences in opinion in matters of 
religion and doe not actually disturb the civill peace of sayd colony, but 
that all and every person and persons may from tyme to tyme and at all 
tymes hereafter freelye and fullye enjoye his and their own judgements and 
consciences in matters of religious concernments, they behaving themselves 
peaceably and quietly, and not using this libertie to lycentiousnesse and 
profanenesse, nor to the civill injurye or outward disturbance of others. 

From the granting of the royal charter to the end of the seventeenth 
century, five new towns were incorporated. Westerly, or the Misquamicut 
tract, was bought from the Indians and settled in 1661. Block Island was 
admitted to the Colony of Rhode Island in 1664, and incorporated as New 
Shoreham in 1672. Kings Towne was made a town in 1674; it was called 
Rochester from 1686 to 1689. Kings Towne was divided into North 
Kingstown and South Kingstown in 1723. East Greenwich was incorpo- 
rated in 1677; it became Bedford in 1686, but resumed its original name 
three years later. Conanicut Island was incorporated as Jamestown in 
1678. During the same period settlers from Plymouth or Massachusetts 
founded three towns which later became part of Rhode Island; these 
were Barrington (1660), Little Compton (1674), and Bristol (1680). 

Much of Rhode Island's history after the middle of the seventeenth 
century is concerned with military and naval affairs from 1652 to the 
end of the Revolution the Colony took part in at least nine wars. Priva- 
teers went out of Newport to seize enemy ships during the Anglo-Dutch 
commercial war of 1652-54, and the Colony made preparations for 
hostilities which did not materialize locally in the later conflicts between 
England and Holland (1664-67 and 1672-74). King Philip's War occurred 
immediately thereafter. Rhode Island had little to do with its causes, 
although the general increase of English settlements here as elsewhere was 
a factor contributing to Indian resentment. But whatever the causes, 
Rhode Island could not escape the consequences; two powerful native 
tribes lived within her borders. Hostilities broke out at Swansea, Massa- 
chusetts (the middle of June, 1675), despite attempts made by several 
Rhode Islanders to effect a peaceful compromise. Captain Benjamin 
Church, recently settled in the new town of Little Compton, persuaded 

4O Rhode Island : The General Background 

Awashonks, squaw-sachem of the Sakonnet Indians, to keep, out of the 
war, but he failed in urging Weetamoe of the Pocassets to adopt a similar 
policy. Roger Williams also exerted his influence in behalf of peace ; and 
on June 17, 1675, Deputy-Governor John Easton of Newport and a com- 
mittee of five held a futile parley with Philip (Metacom) and his chiefs at 
Bristol Neck Point. 

Although the war was begun by the Wampanoags under Philip, the 
more dangerous Narragansetts under Canonchet, who could muster 
a thousand warriors, soon entered the fray. At the end of July, 1675, 
Philip escaped from traps laid to catch him on the east side of the Taunton 
River and fled northward, not to be seen again by white men in Rhode 
Island until his capture at the end of the war. 

The major Rhode Island event of the Indian uprising was the Great 
Swamp Fight at North Kingstown, on December 19, 1675 ( see Tour 3). 
Actually this battle was not keenly desired by Rhode Islanders, but it was 
more or less forced on the Colony by the aggressive tactics of the Massa- 
chusetts authorities, who hoped to cripple the Narragansetts in their 
winter quarters. With the destruction of this encampment in December, 
the once-powerful Narragansetts received a blow from which they never 
recovered. After the Swamp Fight, Rhode Island witnessed little warfare 
until spring. Captain Michael Pierce and most of his force of fifty white 
soldiers (there were some Indian allies) were slain in an engagement on 
March 26, near what is now Central Falls (see Tour 5) ; and a few days later 
many houses in Providence were burned. King Philip was overtaken by 
a band of men under Captain Church and killed near Mount Hope, Bris- 
tol, on August 12, 1676 (see BRISTOL). With the destruction of the 
Narragansetts, the Indians rapidly declined to an insignificant position 
in Rhode Island affairs. In 1709, the Colony negotiated with the younger 
Ninigret, sachem of the Niantics, for an Indian reservation of some sixty- 
four square miles in Charlestown, and arranged for the lease of other 
areas. Tribal lands titles were extinguished for five thousand dollars in 
1879, the Narragansett tribe itself having been practically extinct for 
a quarter century. 

Intercolonial wars between the English and the French, and the Indian 
allies of both, extended from the end of the seventeenth century beyond 
the middle of the eighteenth. The first of the French wars, called King 
William's, was fought 1689-97. In the first year of hostilities, Block 
Island was attacked by a French privateering force, which plundered the 
island for at least a week in July. This force was later driven away from 
Rhode Island shores by Captain Thomas Paine of Newport and James- 

History 41 

town (see Tour 8). Though the Colony did not otherwise have any large 
part in the war, it may be observed that at this time privateering was first 
legalized by the Assembly. Privateering became such a profitable form 
of warfare that the Colony acquired an unsavory reputation for providing 
a friendly haven for pirates, whether native inhabitants or transients. 
Charges of piracy and of other irregularities in government were made, for 
political purposes, by Lord Bellomont of Massachusetts in 1699 and by 
Governor Joseph Dudley a few years later, causing a bill for the alteration 
of the Rhode Island government to pass the House of Commons, though 
it failed in the House of Lords. Rhode Island itself later took measures to 
end piracy, and in July, 1723, twenty-six freebooters were hanged at 
Gravelly Point near Newport. 

Before the trouble stirred up by Bellomont and Dudley, the Colony 
experienced, along with the rest of New England, a change of government 
under the so-called 'Dominion of New England,' an experiment begun by 
Charles II and continued by his brother James II. Quo warranto pro- 
ceedings based on some real and some alleged irregularities were insti- 
tuted, the Colony's charter was voided (October, 1685), and notice was 
served to the authorities at Newport in the following June. As a county 
in the new Dominion, the Colony of Rhode Island fared rather better than 
Massachusetts, where there was continual strife. The Governor-General, 
Sir Edmund Andros, favorably regarded Rhode Island claims to King's 
Province and other lands, and gave the Colony an able subordinate ruler 
in the person of Francis Brinley, presiding judge of the Court of General 
Quarter Sessions. The Colony resumed its charter government after the 
fall of Andros in Massachusetts, the first meeting of freemen under the 
former constitution being held in Newport, on May i, 1689. Four years 
later the Attorney-General of England declared that the charter of 1663 
was still in force, 

The second French war, Queen Anne's, lasted from 1702 to 1713, during 
which time Rhode Island privateering flourished again. Captain William 
Wanton of Newport, in the ' Greyhound,' a hundred-ton brigantine, took 
three French prizes on a trip to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and later with 
his brother John seized other enemy vessels. The Colony furnished troops 
for Captain Church's expedition against the Eastern Indians, and con- 
tributed both men and money to the unsuccessful campaign against 
Canada. As a result of its expenditures in this war, Rhode Island em- 
barked in 1710 on its first venture in inflation, when it authorized printing 
bills of credit to the amount of 5000 a procedure which had no serious 
effects at the time but which led in later years, especially after the Revolu- 
tion, to grave economic disturbances. 

42 Rhode Island : The General Background 

The next intercolonial war began in 1739 as a commercial conflict with 
Spain but was later merged with the third French war (King George's, 
1744-48). During the first year of these new hostilities, Rhode Island 
built the famous Colony sloop 'Tartar,' which was armed with twelve 
carriage and twelve swivel guns. Rhode Islanders took part in the ex- 
pedition against Cartagena, in 1741, one of the most disastrous campaigns 
in which Americans have ever participated, and assisted Captain Simeon 
Potter of Bristol, commanding the 'Prince Charles of Lorraine,' in ravag- 
ing the coast of French Guiana. Also during this war the Colony char- 
tered two special artillery companies, one in Newport (1742) and the 
other in Providence (1744). Captain Daniel Fones (see Tour 1) com- 
manded the ' Tartar ' in the large New England expedition which captured 
the fortress of Louisburg in 1745, and he contributed to the successful 
outcome of the campaign by dispersing a French force in the Gut of 
Canso. Altogether Rhode Island raised about six hundred and fifty men 
for King George's War. 

The last French war was fought between 1754 and 1763. Two Rhode 
Island men, Stephen Hopkins and Martin Howard, attended the Albany 
Congress in 1754, where an attempt was made to bring about a greater 
degree of intercolonial co-operation. No battles of this last French and 
Indian war were fought on Rhode Island soil; but men from the Colony 
served at Fort William Henry in 1755, some were captured by the French 
at Oswego in 1756, some were lost at the fall of Fort William Henry in 
1757, some aided in the capture of Fort Frontenac in 1758, and others 
served with Jeffrey Amherst through 1759 and 1760. In round numbers, 
about one thousand Rhode Island men enlisted in the land forces during 
this war, and nearly fifteen hundred went to sea as privateersmen. 

Soon after the conclusion of the final French war, Rhode Island became 
embroiled in the disputes between America and England over matters of 
trade, taxation, and imperial control in general. England's seventeenth- 
century trade regulations had not greatly handicapped Rhode Island, 
partly because the early navigation acts were not strictly enforced. But 
the acts limiting Colonial manufacturing of woolen goods (1699), hats 
(1732), and iron (1751), and the Molasses Act (1733) placing heavy duties 
on the importation of molasses, from which Rhode Islanders made rum, 
convinced the colonists that the English policy toward America, even 
though it may not have been actually tyrannical, was a hindrance to local 

In connection with the controversies which raged after 1763, the name 
of Stephen Hopkins is outstanding. Born in Providence in 1707 and reared 

History 43 

as a young man in Chopmist, Scituate, he held after 1742 a number of 
responsible public offices. He became Governor in 1755, and from that 
year to 1768 he was chosen chief executive ten times. His rival for the 
position, Samuel Ward, was chosen three times during the same period, 
the result in the annual contests being often decided by the narrow margin 
created by a few pounds or shillings distributed to the right voters. From 
1764 on, Hopkins had much to do with shaping public opinion against 
English measures, the most famous of his writings being the 'Right of 
Colonies Examined/ which appeared in the Providence Gazette. Rhode 
Island was represented by Metcalf Bowler and Henry Ward in the Con- 
gress of 1765 at New York, which opposed the Stamp Act. 

In 1765 there occurred one of the earliest instances of resistance to 
British authority. On the night of June 4, a mob of about five hundred 
sailors and boys seized a boat attached to the 'Maidstone,' which had 
been impressing sailors in Newport Harbor, and dragged it through 
Queen Street to the Common, where it was burned. No redress was 
secured by the British officers. Hopkins was followed as Governor by 
Josias Lyndon; and then in 1769 came another Newporter, Joseph Wan- 
ton, who held the position until the Revolution. During the first year of 
Wanton's tenure occurred the 'Liberty' affair, in which a group of New- 
port men scuttled the British revenue sloop of that name (see NEW- 
PORT). In this same year, there also took place a more peaceful but 
nevertheless important event, the first commencement of Rhode Island 
College, now Brown University. In June, 1772, another British revenue 
vessel, the 'Gaspee,' was burned as it lay grounded about seven miles 
south of Providence on the west side of Narragansett Bay (see Tour 1). 
Governor Wanton was placed in the embarrassing position of being 
obligated to enforce English regulations without at the same time 
alienating his own constituents. He filled this difficult r61e with consider- 
able success; in 1769 and 1772 he issued executive proclamations for the 
arrest of the local offenders, but he did not overexert himself to bring the 
guilty ones to trial. The ' Gaspee ' incident has been called ' the Lexington 
of the sea.' 

The War for Independence began at Lexington and Concord, Massa- 
chusetts, in April, 1775, and the situation in Rhode Island soon reached 
a point where diplomacy no longer sufficed. News of the battle of Lexing- 
ton on April 19 came to Rhode Island the same night, and the next day 
a thousand men were ready to march to the scene of strife. Two days 
later a special session of the Legislature met at Providence and authorized 
the enlisting of fifteen hundred new troops. Although Governor Wanton 

44 Rhode Island : The General Background 

was well disposed toward the Colonial side of the controversy, he believed 
that war would damage both parties without resulting in final benefit to 
either. Because of his refusal to sanction military measures, the Assembly 
suspended him as Governor, and on October 31 it deposed him from office, 
electing Nicholas Cooke of Providence in his place. In the following 
spring, Rhode Island became the first Colony to declare, by solemn act, 
her independence of the British Crown. The Rhode Island act of in- 
dependence, passed on May 4, 1776, antedates by two months the resolu- 
tion of independence adopted by the Continental Congress at Phila- 
delphia, and antedates also the adoption of the Virginia 'Bill of Rights.' 
Thus Rhode Island may justly claim to be the oldest independent State 
in the United States. 


Rhode Island officially acquired its name on July 18, 1776, when the 
General Assembly in session at Newport resolved that ' the style and title 
of this government . . . shall be the State of Rhode Island and Providence 
Plantations. 7 In common usage the latter part of this title, which had 
been given to the early settlements by the English charter of 1644, is 
omitted. The name ' Rhode Island' was first used hi connection with 
a part of the present State by Verrazano, an Italian navigator, who visited 
Narragansett Bay in 1524. His account of the voyage notes that an island 
in the vicinity of the bay, probably the one now known as Block Island, 
reminded him of the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea. More 
than a century later, Roger Williams, perhaps influenced by Verrazano, 
used the name ' Rhode Island ' in a letter to Governor John Winthrop of 
Massachusetts. Williams applied the name to the large island in Narra- 
gansett Bay then called Aquidneck, the island on which stands the present 
city of Newport. In 1644 a Court of Election held at Newport ordered 
' that the ysland commonly called Aquethneck, shall be from henceforth 
called the Isle of Rhodes, or RHODE ISLAND.' Thus the name of the 
State originated in devious ways. It was first used in connection with 
Block Island by Verrazano, it was more than a century later transferred 
to Aquidneck, and was finally applied to the State at large at the time 
of the Revolutionary War. 

Native sons and daughters pronounce the name of their State as if it 
were spelled Ro-dl'land. 

History 45 


Very little of the Revolutionary War was actually fought on Rhode 
Island soil, although local men served in widely scattered fields through- 
out the contest. The State witnessed the first naval action of the war 
when on June 15, 1776, Captain Abraham Whipple captured off James- 
town an armed tender attached to the British frigate 'Rose.' In October 
the 'Rose,' commanded by James Wallace, bombarded Bristol until the 
captain was induced to leave by a gift of some forty sheep (see BRISTOL). 
Bristol and Warren were also pillaged in May, 1778. Rhode Island dele- 
gates in the Second Continental Congress, meeting at Philadelphia, took 
a prominent part in inducing that body to organize the Continental Navy, 
of which Esek Hopkins, brother of Stephen, was made commander-in- 

The war came most closely home to Rhode Island through the British 
occupation of Newport, from December 8, 1776, to October 25, 1779, 
especially since the British made raiding attacks on near-by communities 
from their Newport base of operations. The battle of Rhode Island was 
fought in Portsmouth on August 28-29, 1778, when American forces 
under General John Sullivan attempted to drive the British out of New- 
port (see Tour 6) ; though this ultimate object was not gained, the British 
did not thereafter advance farther into the State. French aid arrived in 
Rhode Island in July, 1780, with the appearance of Count Rochambeau 
and his six thousand troops, the majority of whom were subsequently 
encamped on the outskirts of Providence. 

Near the close of the war General Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island 
achieved national fame by rescuing from failure the American campaign 
in the South, since the battle he conducted at Guilford Court House on 
March 15, 1781, proved to be the turning point in that sector. Also, 
Greene's resourceful leadership in the battle of Eutaw Springs on Septem- 
ber 8, 1781, for which Congress honored him with a gold medal, may be 
considered as closing the national war in South Carolina. David Ramsay's 
'History of the American Revolution' (1789) states that 'History affords 
but few instances of commanders who have achieved so much, with 
equal means, as was done by General Greene, in the short space of a 
twelvemonth. He opened the campaign [in the South] with gloomy 
prospects; but closed it with glory.' General Washington visited Newport 
in March, 1781, to confer with Rochambeau on plans for the next southern 

46 Rhode Island : The General Background 

campaign, which came to a sudden and successful end at Yorktown. 
The French troops left the State in June on the way to New York to join 
with the main force of the American army; and a Rhode Islander, Captain 
Stephen Olney (see Tour 11), led a detachment of the Rhode Island 
regiment in an assault on the outer redoubts of Yorktown, October 15, 

The Revolution is estimated to have cost Rhode Island a million dol- 
lars; and owing to casualties or to the fight of royalists from the State, the 
population declined from about 58,000 in 1774 to 52,000 in 1782. Hard 
times followed the war, and led to much unrest among farmers and the 
debtor class, resulting in a distressing experience with paper money. Bills 
of credit had been issued at various times since 1710, the crisis coming in 
1786 when the paper currency reached its greatest volume and also the 
lowest point in its depreciation. The Legislature authorized in May a new 
issue of 100,000 and in June passed a supplemental act forcing creditors 
to accept the depreciated paper under penalty of 100 fine and loss of 
their right to vote. For a short time the State was treated to the odd 
spectacle of debtors chasing their creditors. This situation was checked 
by the case of John Trevett vs. John Weeden, argued before the Superior 
Court at Newport in September, 1786, a decision being rendered for the 
creditor-defendant. During the Revolutionary period, the State also took 
measures to end slavery; it prohibited the slave trade in 1774, and in 
1784 it enacted measures for the gradual emancipation of slaves. 

Rhode Island's place in the new Union, created by the Constitutional 
Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, was decided only after a long and 
closely contested political battle. Rhode Islanders were very jealous of 
any outside interference with their affairs, particularly with their trade, 
and hence the State did not send delegates to the Philadelphia convention. 
After the new Federal Constitution had been adopted by its framers, 
Rhode Island delayed until 1790 before calling a State convention to 
ratify the new instrument of government. In July, 1789, Congress sought 
to force Rhode Island into the Union by placing the State (and also North 
Carolina, which had not ratified) outside the revenue limits of the rest 
of the country, but it postponed enforcement of this discriminatory act 
to 1790. A Rhode Island convention finally met in the Old Court House 
at South Kingstown on March i, but this assembly adjourned without 
coming to a favorable decision. A second convention met at Newport two 
months later, and ratified the Federal Constitution on May 29, by the 
vote of 34 ayes to 32 nays. 

On its entrance into the Union, the State was composed of thirty 

History 47 

towns, as compared with only nine in 1700; the population had increased 
from 7181 in 1708 to 68,825 in 1790. Local commerce, which had been 
nearly ruined by the war, was beginning to revive, though it never 
regained the predominant position it once occupied in the economic life 
of the State. 


In the period immediately following 1790, Rhode Island was occupied 
with internal adjustments incident to its enrollment as a member of the 
new Union. These adjustments were primarily economic, and the fore- 
most question was that of revenue. The State's acceptance of the Con- 
stitution did not entail as great a sacrifice of independence as some had 
feared, but it brought a diversion of shipping revenues from the State to 
the Federal Government. Since commerce was Rhode Island's most 
profitable occupation, this diversion of revenue disarranged for a time 
the finances of the local government. One of the first results of the change 
was the temporary suspension of work on Providence harbor improve- 
ment because of lack of funds. Five months before Rhode Island joined 
the Union, the State had levied a duty of two cents per ton on most vessels 
entering Providence River. The proceeds of this tax were assigned to the 
River Machine Company, which was to dredge the river and keep it 
navigable. Although Congress permitted the State to retain this special 
revenue for five years, the proceeds therefrom were not large. Rhode 
Island commerce continued to encounter difficulties after 1790, because 
of the European wars, Jefferson's Embargo of 1807-09, and the second 
war with Great Britain. With the coming of Samuel Slater to Pawtucket 
in 1790, however, the textile industry had its beginning, and it eventually 
supplanted commerce as the major source of private profit. 

Rhode Island's first senators in Congress were Joseph Stanton, Jr. 
(1739-1807), and Theodore Foster (1752-1828). Their tenure was deter- 
mined by lot, Stanton drawing four years and Foster two. They were 
sent to Philadelphia in June, 1790, and given State loans of one hundred 
and fifty dollars each to use as ready cash until their first Federal salaries 
were paid. For Representative in Congress, the State re-elected Benjamin 
Bourn (1755-1805), a member of Congress under the Articles of Con- 

The twenty-year period following 1790 is often called 'the administra- 

48 Rhode Island : The General Background 

tion of the Fenners.' Just previous to Rhode Island's ratification of the 
Constitution, Arthur Fenner was elected Governor, and was re-elected 
each year until 1805, when he died and was succeeded by his son James. 
The latter held office until he was defeated in 1811 by William Jones. 
Fenner lost on that occasion by only 172 votes in a total of 7508. This 
closely fought election turned upon national rather than local issues, the 
character of which may be explained somewhat as follows: For many years 
after 1790, local politics depended largely upon the interests of the two 
great national parties and their respective leaders, Hamilton and Jeffer- 
son. The Federalists in Rhode Island generally supported Hamilton's 
program for a strong national government and friendly commercial inter- 
course with England; whereas the Anti-Federalists, later called the 
Republicans, sympathized with Jefferson's support of States' rights, and 
with his sentimental attachment for France, which was in the throes of 
a republican revolution. Local party alignment was not always clear, 
however. Hamilton lost favor in Rhode Island when the Federal Govern- 
ment assumed only a part of the State's Revolutionary debt. For many 
years after the Revolution, also, there was a strong local sentiment in 
favor of the French because the able and amiable French general, Ro- 
chambeau, had maintained quarters in Newport during the latter part of 
the war. The ever-present fear of impressment by the English navy alarmed 
seamen and merchants who would otherwise have supported the Federalist 
cause. When in 1794, for instance, the British sloop-of-war 'Nautilus' 
sailed into Newport harbor, her commander, Captain Boynton, was 
charged with carrying American sailors in his crew. A critical situation 
was avoided in this instance because the captain, upon being shown that 
six of the crew were Americans, discharged them with pay, professing 
previous ignorance of their citizenship. For several years after 1790, 
party lines in Rhode Island were not sharply drawn. Governor Arthur 
Fenner was regarded as an Anti-Federalist, but Samuel T. Potter, long 
Lieutenant-Governor, was of the opposite faction. James Fenner was 
a Republican. Pro-French sentiment in America declined after 1803, 
when Napoleon, continuing his wars, aspired to conquer all of Europe 
so as to close the whole continent to English trade. The Federalists 
became favorable to England, and more bitter in their opposition to the 
Republican administration because of Jefferson's Embargo, which dealt 
a deadly blow to Rhode Island shipping, and because of the hardly more 
satisfactory commercial regulations under Madison, his successor in the 
Public opinion was divided on the merits of the War of 1812. Rhode 

History 49 

Islanders wished to expand their sea trade, and the war was obviously a 
hindrance to this endeavor. Most New Englanders had little enthusiasm 
for Henry Clay's ambition to conquer Canada, and Rhode Islanders in 
particular were afraid that the hostilities would bring down British attacks 
upon the vulnerable spots along their seacoast. Despite the strategic 
advantages of Narragansett Bay as a base for naval operations, the Fed- 
eral Government had neglected fortifications for its defense. 

Yet many Rhode Islanders played a heroic part in this blundering war 
which was conducted on both sides with singular incapacity. The re- 
markable American naval victories of the war were due to the seafaring 
tradition of American sailors and shipbuilders rather than to the fore- 
sight of the Federal Government. One of the most decisive battles of the 
war was Perry's victory on Lake Erie (1813). Oliver Hazard Perry was 
born at Rocky Brook, South Kingstown, in 1785 (see Tour 1), became 
a midshipman in 1799, served in the Tripolitan War, and in 1812-13 was 
in command of a gunboat flotilla in New York waters. In February, 
1813, he was given command of a fleet to be equipped on Lake Erie. 
Most of the spring and summer passed in ship construction at Erie, 
Pennsylvania; but in September Perry's little squadron was ready for 
action, and sought the British squadron. The battle was fought at Put- 
in-Bay on September 10, 1813. Against great odds, both in men and 
ships, Perry disabled the British flotilla. His victory gave the United 
States the control of Lake Erie, and enabled General William Henry 
Harrison to make a brief invasion of Canada. Perry engaged in no major 
battles after this campaign. In 1819 he went to Venezuela on a govern- 
ment mission, and there, at thirty-four years of age, he died of yellow 

Another thorn in Britain's side during the War of 1812 was James 
De Wolfe, of Bristol, who as a boy ran away from his father's farm to go 
privateering and who later accumulated a fortune in the slave trade (see 
BRISTOL). His ships had suffered from impressment, so that he had no 
love for the English. In less than a fortnight after the declaration of war 
he offered to the Government, at his own expense, the brig 'Yankee,' of 
1 60 tons burden, mounting 18 guns and carrying 120 men, under the 
command of Oliver Wilson. On six cruises this vessel captured or de- 
stroyed five million dollars' worth of British property. 

The less heroic aspect of Rhode Island's r61e in the war appeared in 
relation to the question of militia service. The State raised a quota of 
five hundred men and placed them, as ordered, under the Federal com- 
mander, General Dearborn, but Rhode Island refused to allow the militia 

50 Rhode Island : The General Background 

to engage in service outside the State, or to do garrison duty under 
Federal officers. The Governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut like- 
wise refused to allow Federal officers to command their State troops. 
Since the United States had at this time a very small standing army, 
these restrictions upon the use of the New England militia seriously handi- 
capped the conduct of the war. Rhode Island felt that she had a strong 
case for refusing to allow the militia to perform Federal service, because 
of Federal neglect of local defense. Under Governor William Jones, the 
State used its resources for its own protection. Money was granted the 
Providence Marine Corps for the purchase of cannon, and quantities of 
muskets were stored at Providence and Newport, each musket 'with two 
extra flints and twenty rounds of ammunition.' When the threat of a 
British invasion became very real, after Stonington, Connecticut, had 
been bombarded in August, 1814, the State took on the appearance of a 
well-armed camp. Guards were established at the Stone Bridge in Tiver- 
ton, at Barbour's Heights in North Kingstown, and at several points in 
Warren and East Greenwich. All the townspeople of Providence, from 
'free men of color' to 'gentlemen of the bar' and students of Brown 
University, labored on earthworks for the defense of the city. Vigilance 
was not relaxed until news of the Treaty of Ghent arrived (February, 

The feeling of the New England States against the Federal Govern- 
ment culminated in the Hartford (Connecticut) Convention (December, 
1814), at which Rhode Island was represented by four delegates. The 
members met in secret session for three weeks, while Federal troops were 
encamped at Hartford 'on recruiting duty.' Because of its secrecy the 
Hartford Convention was popularly supposed to have contemplated 
treason or secession, and this widespread impression helped to bring 
about the rapid decline of the Federalist Party. A history of the conven- 
tion, published in 1833, showed that the delegates carried on an animated 
and fair-minded discussion of State vs. Federal relations, but the true 
nature of the convention came to light too late to save its members from 
obloquy. Rhode Island's delegates made a report to their Legislature, 
but in the universal rejoicing over the peace with Great Britain, the 
proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution were laid aside with- 
out serious consideration. 

The decline of the Federalist Party in Rhode Island enabled the Re- 
publicans to elect Nehemiah Rice Knight (1780-1854) as Governor in 
1817, though the Federalists retained control of the House. The political 
bitterness of those days is manifested by the fact that the House ordered 

History 51 

the court-martial (which was not carried out) of a Newport artillery 
officer, Captain Robert Cranston, who was alleged to have insulted ex- 
Governor Jones. 

Rhode Island's history in the second decade of the nineteenth century 
was largely bound up with attempts to reform the State Constitution. 
The State was living under an antiquated frame of government, the 
King Charles Charter of 1663. This charter specified no suffrage quali- 
fications, but since 1724 the right to vote had been limited by statute to 
adult males who owned 100 of real estate or property which rented 
for at least seven shillings annually, and to the eldest sons of such persons. 
By 1840 these requirements disqualified about half of the adult male 
population. After 1797, many attempts were made to alter this situation, 
but the Legislature, under control of the landholders, would not give 
way to demands for a new constitution. The situation became the more 
intolerable when Connecticut and Massachusetts reformed their funda- 
mental laws in 1818 and 1820, respectively. 

Success for the reform party was finally assured through the work of 
Thomas Wilson Dorr (1805-54). Dorr was the son of a prosperous 
Providence manufacturer, a graduate of Harvard, and a lawyer of good 
business and social position. In 1840, he was instrumental in founding 
the Rhode Island Suffrage Association, and in 1841 the People's Party, 
which held a constitutional convention and drew up a constitution pro- 
viding for universal manhood suffrage. The People's Constitution was 
sweepingly ratified by a plebiscite in which all adult males were allowed 
to vote. The existing government, under Governor Samuel Ward King 
(1786-1851) of Johnston, contended, justly, that these proceedings were 
illegal, but the party in power was so frightened that it authorized another 
convention. The work of this second meeting, called the Landholders' 
Constitution, was rejected by 676 votes in a total of 16,702. At this 
point Dorr forsook peaceful methods of reform and became a real rebel. 

The People's Party elected Dorr Governor, and inaugurated him at 
Providence on May 3, 1842. The next day Governor King was inaugu- 
rated at Newport. Thus the smallest State in the Union had two govern- 
ments; but since it also had five capitals, the rival administrations could 
move about without getting in each other's way. Both parties appealed 
to President Tyler for aid, but received no encouragement. On the night 
of May 17-18, the Dorrites moved against the armory in Providence; 
but when their 'artillery,' two old field pieces captured from General 
Burgoyne in 1777, refused to fire, they withdrew. Dorr left the State 
for a time, while the administration proceeded to arrest many of his 

52 Rhode Island : The General Background 

followers. He returned to Rhode Island in June, expecting to find five 
hundred armed supporters in Chepachet. Since only about a tenth of 
that number assembled, he decided to retire from the field of action. 
As a gesture of victory, Governor King sent troops to storm the rebel 
' works' on Acote Hill in Chepachet (see Tour 9). One cow was killed 
in the encounter, the only other casualty being that of a bystander who 
was shot while a mob on the Massachusetts side of the Blackstone River 
was 'ragging' the Kentish Guards holding the bridge. 

Dorr voluntarily gave himself up to the authorities in 1843. He was 
tried for treason and convicted, though the defense lawyers contended 
that one could commit treason only against the United States and not 
against an individual State. After a year's imprisonment, Dorr was re- 
leased. Being then in poor health, he retired from public affairs, but the 
goal he had personally failed to attain was reached by others. The legal 
government of the State called another convention, which in October 
and November, 1842, framed the present State Constitution, conferring 
the suffrage upon adult males who possessed $134 worth of real property 
or who paid a tax of at least $i annually. Roger Williams was Rhode 
Island's great protector of religious liberty; Thomas Wilson Dorr was 
its outstanding champion of democracy. 


Shortly after 1842, Rhode Island became involved in the national issues 
of slavery and westward expansion. Slavery had been curtailed in the 
State with the passage of the Emancipation Act of 1784. Anti-slavery 
sentiment was maintained throughout the years following, and was quick 
to rise when the issue became national. On July 4, 1833, the first of many 
public anti-slavery meetings was held in Providence. In 1845, the General 
Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the annexation of Texas, on 
the ground that the United States had no power to extend its jurisdiction 
over a foreign nation. The resolution indicated, if it did not openly reveal, 
the strong local sentiment against slavery. Hence Rhode Island was in 
accord with the other northern States that opposed the ambiguous atti- 
tude of the Federal Government on the question of slavery in the Lone 
Star State. Despite objection to the annexation of Texas, however, the 
General Assembly encouraged enlistments for the Mexican War; it passed 
special resolutions upon the death of Major J. R. Vinton in action, and 

History 53 

appointed a committee to arrange details for his funeral, which was con- 
ducted with much pomp and ceremony. 

Two events of contemporary importance occurred in 1843 and 1848. 
Amasa Sprague, a prosperous textile manufacturer, was murdered at 
Cranston in 1843, probably as a result of his having successfully opposed 
the granting of a license to sell liquor near his factory. The suspected 
slayer was convicted and executed, but doubt as to his guilt arose later, 
and it was largely as a result of the Sprague case that the State abolished 
capital punishment in 1852. The other event was the introduction to 
Providence in 1848 of gas lighting. Though Providence was somewhat 
tardy in adopting such illumination for its streets, gas had been used in 
Newport as early as 1806. David Melville of Newport had become in- 
terested in the method of manufacturing and using gas which had already 
been successfully tried in Europe, and he is generally credited with the 
introduction of gas lighting to America. There are records of single gas 
lamps being put into use, in 1804, in Washington, D.C., though it is not 
certain that these were of the same type that Melville used. After some 
experimenting, Melville was able to illuminate his house, and the street 
in front of his house, with gas distilled from coal. In 1813, he had suf- 
ficiently improved his apparatus to take out a patent. Installations were 
made in several near-by mills and in two or three lighthouses. However, 
there was no public lighting in Providence until 1821, and even then 
the illuminant used was not gas; sperm-oil lamps were used in street 
lamps until 1848, when gas lighting was introduced. 

Many other events of economic importance occurred during the first 
half of the nineteenth century. The first State banking institution, the 
Providence Bank, was chartered in 1791, and the first three savings banks 
in 1819. The steamboat 'Firefly,' the first in these waters, made its 
initial trip from Newport to Providence on May 28, 1817. Regular 
steamboat service was established in 1823. In the latter year the Black- 
stone Canal was chartered, being opened to commerce five years later. 
The earliest charter for a turnpike was granted just before 1800; and a 
railroad charter was granted in 1828, though no trains ran over the first 
line, between Providence and Boston, until June, 1835. The second rail- 
road, between Providence and Stonington, Connecticut, was opened in 
November, 1837; and the next enterprise, the Providence and Worcester 
Railroad, began to operate in 1847. 

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Matthew Calbraith Perry 
achieved international fame through his dealings with Japan. Born in 
Newport in 1794, he was the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, 

54 Rhode Island : The General Background 

and was with the latter at the Battle of Lake Erie, and during the Mexi- 
can War commanded a naval battery at Vera Cruz. The treaty negotiated 
by Perry with Japan in 1854 was the first modern commercial treaty made 
by that power. 

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Rhode Islanders were quick 
to offer their services to the Union quite in contrast to their behavior 
during the War of 1812. On April 16, 1861, the day after President 
Lincoln asked for 75,000 volunteers, Governor William Sprague (1830- 
1915) issued a call for a special regiment of infantry. To assist its organ- 
ization, the Governor contributed $100,000 in the name of his firm, A. and 
W. Sprague. Two days later, the first detachment of 1000 men, picked 
from 2500 volunteers, left Providence under the command of Colonel 
Ambrose E. Burnside. In another four days, a second detachment de- 
parted, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph S. Pitman. A bat- 
tery of artillery commanded by Captain Charles H. Tompkins drilled for 
two weeks at Easton, Pennsylvania, and then arrived in Washington on 
May 2 ; this was the first volunteer battery of the Civil War. 

Governor Sprague personally engaged in the early fighting of the war; 
a horse was shot from under him at the first battle of Bull Run. In late 
July and early August of 1861, the first Rhode Island detachments were 
mustered out of service, since their enlistments had been for only three 
months. Between 1861 and 1863, a total of fourteen regiments (including 
one colored contingent) marched away from Rhode Island. On the home 
front, a branch of the United States Sanitary Commission was established 
at Providence to forward medicines and other hospital supplies to the 
Union armies. The Providence Ladies' Volunteer Relief Association was 
formed to aid in the shipment of clothes, bandages, and other necessities, 
and in 1863 the group was made an auxiliary of the Sanitary Commission. 

Rhode Island regiments participated in nearly all of the major battles 
of the war. Inscriptions on regimental colors record service at Fort 
Sumter, Spottsylvania, and Vicksburg. The State contributed a total 
of 24,042 men to the army, and 645 men to the navy. 1 Rhode Island 
seamen were recruited through New Bedford, Massachusetts. Thomas 
P. Ives of Providence contributed a yacht to the Government. After 
recovering from an illness at the outbreak of the war, Ives held the rank 
of captain and saw service in Chesapeake Bay and at Roanoke. Rhode 
Island casualties of the war have been recorded as 255 killed, 1265 dead 
of wounds or disease, and 1249 wounded a total of 2769. 

Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-81), an adopted citizen of Rhode Island 

1 These figures include 264 re-enlistments. 

History 55 

who later became Governor, was the State's most distinguished partici- 
pant in the Civil War. Born in Indiana, he graduated from West Point 
in 1847, but resigned from the Army in 1852 to manufacture in Rhode 
Island a breech-loading rifle of his own invention. In the fifties, he was 
Major-General of the State Militia, but for some years prior to the out- 
break of the Civil War he lived in Illinois, where he held an executive 
position with the Illinois Central Railroad. However, at the call to arms 
he returned to Rhode Island immediately and, as already noted, was 
given command of the first volunteer force to leave Providence. His 
misfortunes at Fredericksburg in 1862 are too well known to be recounted 
here. After the war, General Burnside returned to Rhode Island, where 
he served three terms as Governor and then, in 1875, became a United 
States Senator (see BRISTOL). 

After the Civil War came years of economic expansion in Rhode 
Island. It was a conservative and fairly steady development. Since 
Revolutionary days, the economic structure of the State had been fairly 
immune from the worst effects of nation-wide depressions. In recent 
times especially, the State has escaped any spectacular financial disasters. 
Only one brokerage firm failed as a result of the 1929 stock-market 
crash, and only one bank long remained closed after the 1933 bank 

The telephone was introduced into Rhode Island shortly after 1880, 
when the first charter to the Providence Telephone Company was granted 
for a territory covering all of Rhode Island and parts of eastern Massa- 
chusetts. In 1869, there had been some thought of making Rhode Island 
the American terminal of a trans- Atlantic cable, and the Narragansett 
and European Cable Company was incorporated for the purpose; but 
the plan was not carried through. The wireless telegraph was introduced 
in 1903, and was used during the summer of that year by the Providence 
Journal in connection with a Block Island edition which featured news 
dispatched from the mainland by wireless. 1 Electric carbon arc illumi- 
nation began in 1882 on Market Square and Westminster Street in Prov- 
idence, and the incandescent lamp for house illumination came into use 
in 1902. 

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Rhode Island experimented 
with prohibition. The first public temperance meeting was held at 
Providence in April, 1827. Twenty-five years later, the General Assembly 
passed a prohibitory liquor law, which was modified in 1856 and then 

1 Two broadcasting stations, WEAN and WJAR, went on the air within a few days of each 
other in the summer of 1922, and are still in existence. They are now both connected with the 
NBC broadcasting network; whereas a third station, WPRO, is on the Columbia circuit. 

56 Rhode Island : The General Background 

abolished in 1863, when a return of the licensing system was welcomed 
as a source of revenue for the State and town governments. A drastic 
prohibitory law, under which medical prescriptions containing alcohol 
could not be refilled, was in force from 1874 to 1875, and in 1885 a pro- 
hibition amendment was added to the State Constitution. Under a special 
chief a force of county sheriffs, town constables, and other police was or- 
ganized to enforce the measure. The law proved to be very unpopular, 
and was repealed in 1889. Rhode Island did not ratify the Eighteenth 
Amendment to the Federal Constitution; and in the 1933 popular vote 
on the Twenty-First Amendment, Rhode Islanders favored the repeal of 
national prohibition by a ratio of about seven to two. 

The chief enforcement officer under the prohibition law of 1885 was 
Charles R. Bray ton (1840-1910), a Civil War general who for thirty 
years was the Republican 'boss' of the State. In 1870, Brayton had been 
Federal pension agent for Rhode Island, and after 1870 he served as 
postmaster at Providence. Brayton resigned from the special police 
force in 1886, to help bring about the repeal of the prohibition measure 
under which he was appointed. He was admitted to the bar in 1891. 
His power to control public measures was enhanced by the facts that the 
Governor then had no veto power, and that votes could be quite openly 
bought. Brayton drew annual retainers from railroads and other corpora- 
tions, and with the assistance of this war chest he manipulated the legis- 
lators from the rural and Republican areas. It was said of him that he 
never made a promise unless he had to, and never broke a promise once 
it was given. In 1900 he became blind. He was finally ousted from his 
unofficial quarters at the State House through the efforts of Governor 
Higgins (Dem.) in 1906. 

General Brayton usually co-operated with Senator Nelson A. Aldrich 
(1841-1915), who was a power in Washington during the same time. 
A millionaire as well as a great parliamentarian, Aldrich was one of 
the men whose careers lent point to the gibe that the United States 
Senate, at the turn of the last century, was 'a rich man's club.' Aldrich, 
Allison, Platt, and Spooner were known as the 'Big Four,' and they 
dominated Senate legislation until the death of Platt in 1905. Aldrich 
made a study of European banking systems; and the 'Aldrich Plan* 
for this country, proposed in 1911, though not adopted, was a fore- 
runner of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. 

Across Narragansett Bay from Aldrich's Rhode Island house was the 
imposing residence of Senator LeBaron Bradford Colt (1846-1924), who 
came to Providence in 1875, practiced law, and became a member of 

History 57 

the State Legislature from Bristol in 1879. He was United States district 
judge of Rhode Island 1881-84, and United States circuit judge 1884- 
1913. He left the bench then to take a seat in the Senate of the United 
States, and he was a senator until his death, in 1924. 

The State's original quota for the Spanish- American War of 1898 was 
placed at one regiment. More than 2300 applications were received for 
the first volunteer force of 1150 men. The regiment left for the South 
in May. The men saw no service at the front, but suffered greatly from 
tropical diseases. Two battalions of light artillery, a division for the 
United States Hospital Service, and the 'Vulcan,' a floating machine 
shop, saw service with the colors. Many Rhode Island soldiers re-enlisted 
for Philippine duty. 

On October 15, 1896, the cornerstone of the new State House in Provi- 
dence was laid. On May 19, 1897, a new State flag was adopted; and 
on Battle Flag Day (April 30) of 1903, the flags in the old State House 
were removed to the new State House. This 'marble palace' on Constitu- 
tion Hill had been completed in 1900; and on November 6 of the same 
year a constitutional amendment making Providence the sole capital of 
the State had been approved. On January i, 1901, the General Assembly 
convened for the first time in the new State House. 

In 1902, the General Assembly limited the hours of a legal working 
day for conductors, motormen, and gripmen on street railways. The 
street-car corporation immediately opposed the measure, and announced 
that men working only the prescribed number of hours would lose wages. 
A majority of the workers went on strike, and public sympathy was with 
them since the corporation was defying State law. There were riots, and 
martial law was declared in Pawtucket. Service was restored on all the 
lines under military protection, and the State paid more than twenty-five 
thousand dollars for militia to protect a corporation that was breaking the 
law. Though the Supreme Court upheld the shorter working day, the 
railway company continued to operate in defiance of the decision, and the 
General Assembly virtually repealed the measure by indefinitely post- 
poning its application. The election in 1906 of a Democratic Governor, 
James H. Higgins, may be directly traced to this affair. Higgins conducted 
a campaign on the issue of 'bossism,' charging that the opposition was too 
friendly to public utilities. He served two years, and was succeeded by 
a Governor who served four and one-half terms. 

Aram J. Pothier (1854-1928), born in Quebec, came to Woonsocket 
when he was eighteen, and there rose from a position as grocery clerk to 
the presidency of a bank, He made several trips to France which resulted 

58 Rhode Island : The General Background 

in the establishment in Woonsocket of branch factories of several French 
and Belgian firms. This Franco- American was often called the 'Dick 
Whittington of Rhode Island.' When he came out of virtual retirement 
in 1924 to lead the Republican Party into office for the fourth time, his 
popularity was such that he was elected by a plurality of more than 

The entrance of the United States into the World War found Rhode 
Island, in common with her sister States, eager to help in the common 
cause. More than 28,000 local men served in the national armies. Bat- 
teries A, B, and C of the io3d United States Field Artillery were offshoots 
of the famous Providence Marine Corps of Artillery, from which had 
come in the past such men as Reynolds, Sprague, and Burnside. World 
War casualties among Rhode Islanders numbered 1693. 

Women began registering as presidential voters for the first time on 
July i, 1919. On January 6, 1920, the General Assembly ratified the 
proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States extending 
the full right of suffrage to women; and on November 2, 1920, women of 
Rhode Island exercised that right for the first time in national, State, and 
town elections. 

In 1922, the State voted into office a Democratic administration, 
although a majority of the legislative members were Republicans. The 
session of 1924 witnessed a famous filibuster, when the Democrats re- 
solved to delay passage of the annual appropriation bills until the Republi- 
can majority yielded to their demands for constitutional and other 
changes. Both sides settled down to a grim parliamentarian warfare 
that was not without its comic side. Spectators thronged to the State 
House, where Lieutenant-Governor Toupin astonished them by his 
unique application of Senate rules, including an inability to see any Re- 
publicans when they rose to demand the floor. The House soon tired of 
meeting and sending bills to a deadlocked Senate, where members and 
spectators engaged in fist fights on the floor. The climax came when an 
unbearable odor emanated from a bomb placed behind the Senate leader's 
chair. Republican senators fled the State and went into hiding in a Massa- 
chusetts hotel, thus stopping further business through lack of a quorum. 
To keep the administration from going to pieces, the banks loaned money 
to the various State institutions. Aram J. Pothier was elected Governor 
by a landslide vote in the following election. At his death, on February 
4, 1928, he was succeeded by the Lieutenant-Governor, Norman S. 
Case, who served as Chief Executive until 1933. 

The next Democratic Governor, Theodore Francis Green, was elected 

History 59 

by a large majority in 1932. He was at first handicapped by a Republican 
majority in the Assembly, but in 1934 the Democrats took control in no 
uncertain manner. In a single day, all of the eighty or more existing 
boards and commissions were overthrown, the seats of the Supreme Court 
were declared vacant, and the administration was reorganized into eleven 
new departments. Dual office-holding became a widespread evil from 
1934 to 1936, but in the latter year the Democrats, returned to office by 
a large majority, gave promise that this grievance would be abolished. 
Governor Green became a United States Senator-elect in November, 
1936, and was succeeded as Governor on January 4, 1937, by the former 
Lieutenant-Governor, Robert E. Quinn. 

The State finishes its three hundredth year with the question of con- 
stitutional reform still before the people. Unequal representation in the 
General Assembly is the main issue. At a special election held March 10, 
1936, the voters rejected a proposal for a special convention to frame 
a new constitution, but since that date many amendments to the present 
constitution have been introduced into the regular assembly. 

Since 1790, the number of cities and towns in Rhode Island has in- 
creased from 30 to 39, and the population from 68,825 to 687,497. J 

x The last figure given above is from the Federal Census of 1930; the State Census of 1936 
showed a smaller total, of 680,712. 


PRIOR to the year 1647, the four original towns in Rhode Island 
Newport, Portsmouth, Providence, and Warwick were governed in- 
dependently of one another (see History). Under the authority of the 
English Charter of 1644 there assembled at Portsmouth in May, 1647, the 
first united governing body for the Colony. Common officers were elected 
by ballot. John Coggeshall of Newport was selected to serve as President 
of the Colony, and Roger Williams of Providence, John Sanford of Ports- 
mouth, William Coddington of Newport, and Randall Holden of War- 
wick were named as Assistants. William Dyer and Jeremy Clarke, both 
from Newport, were elected General Recorder and Treasurer respectively. 
Outstanding enactments of this assembly of freeholders or General Court 
had to do with guarantees of liberty and property, insistence upon the 
charter as a limitation upon legislative power, omission of an oath from 
the engagement of officers, the protection of liberty of conscience, and 
provision for the initiative and referendum. 

The harmony which prevailed at the General Court of 1647, however, 
was destined to be short-lived. In the course of the next three years the 
General Assembly, originally composed of all freemen, was replaced by 
a representative assembly of six men from each town. Dissension arose 
between the southern towns and those in the north, and in 1651 Newport 
and Portsmouth failed to send delegations to the annual meeting. Thus 
the General Court of October, 1650, proved to be the final joint session 
until 1654. In that year the existing differences were smoothed away, 
and on August 3 1 an agreement for reunion was signed by commission- 
ers representing the individual towns. A special Court of Election was 
called for September 12, 1654, at which time a common government for 
the Colony was renewed, with Roger Williams as President. 

The restoration of Charles II as King of England (1660) made neces- 
sary the replacement of the Parliamentary Charter of 1644 by a royal 
instrument. The resulting Charter of 1663 reincorporated the Colony, 
authorized a common seal, and outlined a plan of government. It named 
Benedict Arnold as Governor, William Brenton as Deputy-Governor, 
and among ten Assistants such prominent men as Roger Williams, John 
Coggeshall, and Thomas Olney. The General Assembly was authorized 

The State Government 61 

to establish its own time and place of meeting; to admit freemen; to 
name and commission officers; to enact laws and ordinances; to erect 
courts of justice; to establish penalties for crime; to regulate trade with 
the Indians; and to establish and maintain an armed militia. The charter 
did not regulate the right to vote within the Colony, and this very im- 
portant question was dealt with by the Legislature at its own discretion. 
It is to be noted that the Governor, the Deputy-Governor, and the ten 
Assistants were to be elected in the same manner as the other members of 
the General Assembly, although the original officers for these positions 
were named in the charter. The election of the Governor and other exec- 
utive officials by the Colony was a peculiarity of the charter colonies in 
America, as distinguished from the royal colonies, where the Governors 
were chosen by the British Crown. 

The subsequent growth of new towns caused the General Assembly to 
become constantly larger. By 1672 the Deputies, or representatives of 
the towns, numbered twenty-two. It was apparent that the general 
officers, still twelve in number, could be outvoted by the Deputies. This 
situation brought about, in 1696, the separation of the Legislature 
into two houses, the upper house consisting of the Governor, Deputy- 
Governor, and the Assistants, and the lower house of the Deputies, who 
were presided over by a Speaker of their own selection. Between 1663 
and the end of the century the Colony established several other general 
officers: the Recorder (later to be known as Secretary of State), General 
Sergeant (called Sheriff after 1696), General Treasurer, General Attorney, 
Solicitor, and Major. The latter was in command of the militia, while the 
present office of Attorney- General supplants those of General Attorney 
and Solicitor. 

Private homes or taverns in the several towns housed early sessions of 
the General Assembly. A Colony house was erected at Newport in 1690, 
but the Legislature did not confine its meetings to Newport. The Con- 
stitution framed in 1842 followed Colonial precedent by authorizing 
Assembly sessions to be held at Newport, South Kingstown, Bristol, East 
Greenwich, and Providence. From 1854 to 1900 the Legislature met 
either in Newport or in Providence, and after the latter year only in 

The Revolutionary period brought about few changes in the character 
of Rhode Island's government (as a virtually independent charter Colony, 
Rhode Island did not need to frame a constitution at the time of asserting 
its formal independence from Great Britain), though it caused a con- 
troversy between the State and the newly created Federal Government. 

62 Rhode Island : The General Background 

The Continental Congress, always hard pressed for money, attempted in 
1781 to secure the authority to levy customs duties throughout the Union. 
Rhode Island refused to agree to this proposal since the State, enjoying 
a large import trade in relation to its size, would be deprived of a rich 
source of revenue. Local import and export duties were already in force 
in Rhode Island. This State was not represented at the Constitutional 
Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, and it failed to ratify the new Federal 
Constitution until May 29, 1790. 

In the early nineteenth century the major change in Rhode Island's 
government was a liberalizing of the suffrage. Since 1724 the right to 
vote had been limited to adult males who possessed 100 of real estate, 
or property which returned an income of seven shillings annually, and 
to the eldest son of such persons. The Dorr War of 1842 forced the con- 
servative Legislature to call a convention, which framed in the autumn 
of that year the Constitution which is still in force. Originally it provided 
for a nearly omnipotent Legislature which could, if it chose, control both 
the executive and the judiciary. This situation has been somewhat modi- 
fied by amendment. The original document began, as is customary in 
American constitutions, with a Bill of .Rights. This section (Article I) 
guaranteed religious liberty; free, complete, and prompt justice; trial by 
jury; and freedom of the press. It also forbade slavery and imprisonment 
for non-fraudulent debts. The Governor (Article VII) was given no veto 
power, and judges of the Supreme Court (Article X) were to be elected 
by the Legislature and to be removable by the same body. The only 
major limitation on the Legislature's freedom of action was a provision 
(Article IV) that it could not, without the express consent of the people, 
incur a State debt to an amount exceeding $50,000, except in time of war. 

Since 1842 the Constitution has been amended twenty-one times; the 
first amendment, granting the Governor the pardoning power and limiting 
annual assemblies from two sessions to one, was adopted in 1854, and the 
most recent amendment, providing for absentee voting, was accepted in 
1930. Other amendments have made the following important changes: 
Article IV (1864) enabled electors absent from the State to vote if engaged 
in the actual military service of the United States. This provision was 
replaced by Article XXI (1930), which permitted all absentee electors to 
vote. Article V (1886) established prohibition, which was subsequently 
repealed (1889). Rhode Island, it may be noted, never ratified the Pro- 
hibition Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Article XII (1903) 
required judges of the Supreme Court to submit, on request of the Gover- 
nor or either house of the Legislature, advisory opinions respecting any 

The State Government 63 

question of law. By Article XV (1909) the Governor was given the veto 
power; a bill of which he disapproves, however, may be passed over his 
objections by a three-fifths vote of both houses of the Assembly. Article 
XVI (1911) gave the Governor and general officers of the State a term of 
two years instead of one. 

As the General Assembly is now constituted, it is based upon a working 
compromise between popular and geographic (town) representation. The 
Senate (Article XIX, 1928) consists of one senator from each city or town, 
but any city or town having more than twenty-five thousand qualified 
voters may have an extra senator for a fraction exceeding one-half of that 
number no city or town, however, to have more than six senatorial 
representatives. There were forty-two senators in the 1935-36 Assembly, 
four being from Providence, the largest city in the State. In 1909 the 
membership of the lower house was set at a maximum of one hundred, to 
be apportioned among the cities and towns on the basis of population, 
provided, however, that each town should always be entitled to one 
member, and that no city, however large, should have more than one- 
fourth of the total number. There were ninety-nine representatives in 
the 1935-36 Assembly, twenty- three being from Providence. Although 
not required to do so, the General Assembly may reapportion its member- 
ship after any Federal or State census. 

Appointees to executive or administrative offices serve at the discre- 
tion of the appointing officer; there is no civil service system. The State 
has complete control over city charters, but as a matter of policy it does 
not abrogate or amend them without due cause. Strictly speaking, the 
State does not control the public school system, but practically it does, 
since it has the power to refuse State aid to the schools of any city or town 
which does not conform to specifications laid down by the Department of 
Education. In a narrow sense, also, the State has little to do with taxa- 
tion. A few taxes, such as those on gasoline and inheritances, are levied 
directly by the State. Other direct levies partake of the nature of licenses 
rather than taxes, such as licenses for automobile drivers and barbers, and 
fees for the registration of motor trucks, etc. Property taxes, the major 
source of public revenue, are levied by the cities and towns; the returns 
from intangible property, however, are turned over to the State. Neither 
an income tax nor a sales tax has as yet been adopted. 

In Rhode Island the counties are of negligible importance. Sheriffs 
are county officers, and there are county courts; otherwise the counties 
are merely geographical expressions. Most matters of everyday regulation 
are controlled by the local city or town governments. The towns still 

64 Rhode Island : The General Background 

retain much of their original freedom of action in 'government, which is 
expressed through the medium of the traditional town meeting. The 
State is divided into seven cities and thirty-two towns. Each one of the 
cities Central Falls, Cranston, Newport, Pawtucket, Providence, 
Warwick, and Woonsocket is governed by a Mayor, a Board of Alder- 
men (except Cranston and Warwick), and a Common Council (called 
City Council in Cranston and Warwick, and Representative Council in 
Newport). The towns are governed by Town Councils and other usual 
administrative officers, the elections in twenty of the thirty-two towns 
being held at the same time as the State elections. 

Rhode Island has two representatives in Congress, chosen by districts, 
the first district comprising roughly the eastern half of the State plus 
the east half of Providence, the second district comprising the remainder. 

The general officers of the State the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, 
Secretary of State, Attorney-General, and General Treasurer members 
of the General Assembly, members of Congress, and a United States 
Senator when necessary are elected the Tuesday after the first Monday in 
November, biennially in the even years. The General Assembly convenes 
on the first Tuesday in January of each year, and a new State government 
is inaugurated in each odd year. 

The powers and duties of the civil administration of the State govern- 
ment are vested in eleven departments, as recently established by the 
Reorganization Act (Chapter 2250) of the special session of May, 1935. 
Each department is headed by a general officer or director appointed by 
the Governor with Senate confirmation. A peculiar statute passed 
January 29, 1901 (the 'Brayton Law'), limited the Governor's freedom of 
choice in this matter; if the Senate did not choose to ratify his appoint- 
ments it could select its own candidates regardless of the Governor's 
wishes. In May, 1935, this provision was superseded by the more usual 
regulation that the Senate may reject unsatisfactory gubernatorial 
appointments, but may not substitute candidates of its own choosing. 
The earlier law was passed in order to give the upper house, usually 
Republican, control over a Democratic Governor, and to give the Senate 
the whip-hand over a Governor of either party. When the Senate is not 
in session the Governor may make interim appointments. The depart- 
ments are divided into divisions in charge of separate chiefs. The chief 
of a division is appointed by the head of the department in which he 
serves; he has the right to employ his immediate subordinates. 

The State judiciary includes a Supreme Court, with a chief justice and 
four associate justices, selected in Grand Committee by the General 

The State Government 65 

Assembly. A Superior Court, with a presiding justice and ten associate 
justices, is appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. In 
the same manner justices are named to the twenty district courts in the 
State. The Supreme Court sits only in the city of Providence. It is in 
session from the first Monday in October to the second Monday in July, 
except for a recess from the third Monday in February to the first Monday 
in March. 

An important innovation in government is the recent creation of a 
State Planning Board, which was authorized in the spring of 1935. This 
board, with headquarters in Providence, is composed of nine members, 
headed by a chairman; it serves at the pleasure of the Governor. Three 
of the board are executive officers connected with the Department of 
Public Works and the Department of Agriculture, while the remaining 
six members are chosen from the State at large. All members serve with- 
out compensation. The work carried on by the planning board is divided 
into three classes, as follows: (i) The assembling and co-ordination of 
basic data pertaining to Rhode Island; this work is intended to present 
an accurate picture of present economic and social conditions, and to 
reveal existing faults and advantages. (2) The consideration of projects 
submitted by various State agencies for approval. (3) The compiling of 
a master plan to be used as a guide in legislation affecting the growth and 
development of the State. At present (1937) the board's working staff 
is maintained by funds from the Works Progress Administration. 

Affairs of the political parties in Rhode Island are conducted by State 
central committees, and local committees in the several cities and towns. 
The nomination of candidates for elective offices is made in district and 
ward caucuses, and in city, town, and State conventions. 


RHODE ISLAND was originally an agricultural State. Farming was 
the principal occupation followed from the founding of the first settlement 
in 1636 to the end of the nineteenth century, and the total capital invested 
in that pursuit as late as 1890 was estimated to be twenty-five million 

Commerce, including shipbuilding, became a rival interest before the 
end of the seventeenth century; and certainly in the eighteenth century, 
trading on the high seas was a more notable feature of the Colony's 
economic life than agriculture. As early as 1646, a ship of more than one 
hundred tons burden was built at Newport for delivery in New Haven, 
Connecticut, and other vessels were shortly being laid down in the ship- 
yards established at favorable places, such as in Bullock's Cove, East 
Providence. The first warehouse and wharf in Providence were under 
construction in 1680, on a small piece of land that had been granted by 
the town fathers to Pardon Tillinghast. Permission to construct nine 
other wharves and warehouses was granted to various persons in the next 
three years; but until recent times, Providence never paralleled Newport 
as a commercial city. Narragansett Bay was an important shipbuilding 
center throughout the Colonial period, and well into the nineteenth 

The first shops in Newport and Providence were probably operated by 
shipowners and chandlers. Gideon Crawford, admitted as a resident in 
Providence in 1687, was the owner of a typical establishment. He and 
his son John "engaged in foreign trade, importing and selling Holland 
muslins, calico, Bengali tape, silk stockings, edging laces, combs, gloves, 
mohair, drugget, silk crepe, broadcloth, and poplin. The stock in trade 
for the Crawford store in 1719 included indigo, glassware, tobacco, axes, 
brushes, pewterware, bolts, beeswax, ginger, alum, nails, powder, gun 
flints, and halters. 

Joseph Jencks, Jr., who came from Massachusetts and settled at first 
in Warwick, introduced a new industry^to Rhode Island. He was the son 
of the first foundryman to work in brass and iron in Massachusetts. In 
March, 1669, the younger Jencks was granted land on both sides of the 
Pawtuxet River on which to set up and operate a sawmill. Under this 


THE Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth century 
overshadowed Rhode Island agriculture and reduced com- 
merce to secondary importance. The State's first industries 
were the manufacture of textiles and jewelry, both of which 
are still foremost; tool making has become outstanding; ship- 
building, once a corollary to flourishing local commerce, still 
exists on a small scale; agriculture has become a science; and 
unproductive attempts to mine coal and precious metals have 
been compensated for by a fine yield of granite in Westerly. 
The first picture shows Rhode Island's oldest extant textile 
mill, standing near the site of the Nation's first successful tex- 
tile factory. Other pictures show the exteriors or interiors of a 
few of the present-day mills engaged in various textile pro- 
cesses. Craftsmen engaged in the manufacture of silverware, 
precision tools, yachts, and small boats can be seen at their 
tasks. A stone-carver is shown at work on a tombstone of 
Westerly granite. The picture of the Navigation Service 
headquarters at Bristol, where channel markers and buoys are 
kept in condition, .emphasizes the continued importance of 
commerce. Providence Harbor, of which the reader is given a 
ship's-eye view, is the State's most important shipping center. 
Rhode Island agriculture, especially in animal husbandry, has 
won fame for the Rhode Island Red hen, and, as the three 
final pictures indicate, the State College at Kingston, in co- 
operation with the State Department of Agriculture, con- 
tinues scientific experiments in the improvement of barnyard 
beast and fowl. 











* ; 



















Industry and Commerce 67 

grant he was to sell boards at four shillings, sixpence per hundred feet. 
Attracted by the possibilities of another situation, Jencks purchased in 
1671 some sixty acres of land near the Pawtucket Falls, where the Black- 
stone River becomes the Seekonk. He set up a forge, a sawmill, a carpen- 
ter shop, and later an iron foundry and furnace. His shops turned out 
hatchets, axes, hammers, shovels, hoes, plows, and all forms of iron 
implements needed by the colonists in Providence Plantations (see 
PAWTUCKET). Jencks and his followers became so successful that, at 
the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Rhode Island had a larger iron 
and steel production than that of any other Colony. 

The Hope Furnace, owned by Nicholas Brown and Company, and 
situated in the southeast corner of Scituate, proved of great value to the 
Colony and State in the eighteenth century. Iron pigs produced there, 
and known as 'Hope pigs' to the trade, were in great demand, Aaron 
Lopez and other Newport merchants often being purchasers. During 
the Revolution, Sylvanus Brown superintended the casting of cannon 
for the State and also for Continental service. The furnace also supplied 
cannon for the United States service in 1795 (see Tour 9). 

While such men as Joseph Jencks were busy laying the foundations of 
industrialism in Rhode Island, another group sought its fortune in a far 
different field, through exploiting the slave trade. By 1696, a shipload of 
Negroes had been imported, and men and women were sold for $150 to 
$175 each. The demand for slaves was not great up to the year 1708; but 
after that, local merchants plainly saw the profits to be derived from the 
triangular trade in rum, sugar, and slaves. From Newport they sent ships 
to Africa to trade for Negroes. Sailing thence for the West Indies, the 
slaves were exchanged for sugar and molasses, which were brought back 
to Newport and Providence, where the molasses was made into rum. 
This trade provided the wealth which fostered the society and culture 
of Newport. Vessels of all sizes were placed in the trade. One ship is 
reported as carrying 140 hogsheads of liquor, with provisions, muskets, 
and assorted shackles. This cargo could be traded for about 120 slaves, at 
a profit ranging from $9000 to $10,000 for the voyage. The Revolutionary 
period witnessed the end of this trade. A law of 1774 prohibited the 
importation of slaves into Rhode Island; and by 1808 Federal statute had 
outlawed the slave trade for all American citizens. 

Few names are more closely connected with the rise of commerce in 
Rhode Island than that of the Brown family (see PROVIDENCE). The 
Browns and their associates were daring adventurers, sailors, and mer- 
chants. They were men possessed with the qualities needed for success in 

68 Rhode Island : The General Background 

that early period. They included Chad Brown and Nicholas Powers of 
the first settlers, and Pardon Tillinghast, who constructed the first ware- 
house in Providence and the first wharf built in the Providence River. 
James and Obadiah Brown, great-grandsons of Chad Brown, were origi- 
nally sailing masters who first commanded vessels owned by others and 
then bought craft of their own. They subsequently became partners in 
the first Brown commercial house. James Brown died in 1739, leaving 
his widow, Hope, and four sons. Obadiah Brown continued the business 
after his brother's death; and as his nephews came of age, he took Nicho- 
las, Joseph, and John into the family partnership. Following the death of 
Obadiah, the business was organized in 1761 as Nicholas Brown and 
Company. The youngest of the four brothers, Moses, was admitted to 
the firm in 1763 and was affiliated with it for about ten years. Nicholas 
Brown and Company achieved distinction before the Revolution: the 
firm built many ships in its own yards, and engaged both in peaceful 
trading ventures and in privateering. Joseph Brown remained in the 
family partnership only until he had acquired a competency. His interest 
in physical science was stronger than his mercantile instinct, and soon 
after the middle of the century he turned to investigation and study. 
In 1769 he became a trustee of Rhode Island College, and in 1784 he was 
invited to fill the chair of Natural Philosophy at this institution. Nicholas 
and John Brown dissolved their partnership in 1782, and set up separate 
establishments; the several firms which later grew out of this division were 
Brown and Francis; Brown and Benson; Brown, Benson and Ives; and 
Brown and Ives (see PROVIDENCE}. 

John Brown, the most adventuresome of the brothers, took the initia- 
tive in reviving local commerce, which had been greatly damaged by the 
Revolution. In 1787 he became the first Rhode Island merchant to 
undertake direct trade with the Orient. The shipyards of John Brown 
flourished, and the vessels constructed therein gained world-wide renown. 
Records of the voyages made by Brown's ships indicate the commercial 
scope of early American enterprise. The 'General Washington,' 1000 
tons, Captain Jonathan Dennison in command, cleared from Providence 
hi December, 1787, with a cargo of anchors, cannon shot, bar iron, 
ginseng, tar, Jamaica spirits, New England rum, Madeira wine, brandy, 
and spirits, reaching Canton, China, ten months later. On the outward 
journey she stopped at Madeira, Madras, and Pondicherry. Returning, 
she touched at St. Helena, Ascension, and St. Eustasius. The vessel 
reached Providence in July, 1789, after a voyage of more than 32,000 
miles, with a cargo of teas, silks, china, cotton goods, lacquered ware, 

Industry and Commerce 69 

flannels, and gloves, valued at $99,848. John Brown built the 'President,' 
a copper-bottomed ship of 950 tons; and a later vessel of his, the ' George 
Washington,' was the first craft to fly the American flag in Turkish waters. 

Brown, Benson and Ives built the 'John Jay,' which was launched late 
in 1 794. In December of that year the ' John Jay ' sailed for Bombay with 
pig iron, bar iron, rum, gin, pork, candles, and tobacco having a total 
value of $34,550, and returned two years later with teas valued at $250,- 
ooo. This vessel made other voyages to Russia, Batavia, Canton, Amster- 
dam, and Sumatra. The 'Ann and Hope,' 550 tons, waS one of the fastest 
commercial sailing vessels to be placed in commission in Rhode Island. 
On her maiden trip she reached Canton, China, in five months and one 
day, including four days spent in Australia. The vessel returned from 
Canton in 126 days with a cargo of 3165 chests of tea, 130 boxes of china, 
50,000 pieces of Nankeens, and 392 pieces of assorted silks. Her second 
voyage was also to Canton, and the third to Canton via London, with 
tobacco, coffee, and logwood. The 'Ann and Hope' made two more 
voyages that netted the owners considerable profit; and the sixth, which 
proved to be the final trip, was to the East Indies via Lisbon. After many 
minor misfortunes, both going and returning, she was wrecked on Block 
Island while carrying a cargo worth $300,000. 

Whaling, with the resulting manufacture of spermaceti candles, claimed 
the attention of many local merchants. While Nantucket, Massachusetts, 
was the center of the whaling industry, the Rhode Island towns of Provi- 
dence, Warren, Bristol, and Newport were all well represented. Local 
whaling was well under way before the middle of the eighteenth century. 
Spermaceti, taken from the heads of sperm whales, supplanted tallow in 
the making of candles, being harder and giving a stronger and less smoky 
light. In 1763, a trust was established controlling the distribution of the 
entire production of sperm oil by the combined whaling fleets of continen- 
tal North America. The product was divided among ten manufacturers, 
Nicholas Brown and Company being allotted twenty barrels in each 
hundred. A monopoly price for the oil was agreed upon yearly, and the 
establishment of more spermaceti works was discouraged. 

Aaron Lopez, one of many Portuguese Jews who sought religious and 
economic liberty in America, settled in Newport in 1752 and entered upon 
a general merchandising career. Lopez's chief interest was at first the 
spermaceti candle trade, in which he was one of the pioneers. Previous 
to 1765, his shipping was mostly coastwise, but by 1770 he had ventured 
profitably into the West Indies, and his thirty or more vessels came to be 
seen in every busy port of the commercial world. The Revolution brought 

70 Rhode Island : The General Background 

an abrupt end to his business, and left his accounts in complete chaos. 
During the war he moved from Newport to Leicester, Massachusetts. 

Until the time of the Revolution, Newport was the outstanding com- 
mercial center in the Colony. Along with Lopez, thriving sea trade was 
carried on by the Brentons, George Rome, Joseph Wanton, Sr., and his 
sons, Joseph Jr. and William, and a great many others. The ' Golden Age 
of Newport' is an appropriate term applied to the years 1760-76, when 
the town flourished not only as a seaport but as a social center. People 
from other Colonies began to spend their summers there, a presage of 
Newport's later fame as a fashionable resort. The foreign commerce 
engaged in by local merchants reached its zenith before 1810; and al- 
though commerce declined thereafter, the general prosperity of the State 
was upheld by the rising industrial era. Wealth accumulated in commerce 
was invested in factories, as merchants and mariners turned shoreward 
for further gain. 

Moses Brown, after dissolving connections with the family partner- 
ship, sought another field in which to invest his capital. Some cotton had 
been imported into Providence from Spain as early as 1785; but to Moses 
Brown's wealth, and his willingness to finance Samuel Slater, first success- 
ful reproducer of the Arkwright processes in America, is attributed the 
beginning of the great American textile industry. The Pawtucket factory 
owned by the company of Almy, Brown and Slater was the first successful 
American cotton manufactory, and for many years it was the only mill 
to be operated on a profitable financial basis (see PAWTUCKET). 

Many other factories were soon built in the State. Job Greene, a 
pioneer in the textile field, constructed a cotton mill at Centreville in the 
Pawtuxet Valley, in 1794. Textile mills appeared in Coventry in 1800, 
and in Warwick by 1807. The Clyde Bleachery and Print Works was 
established in 1828. Within twenty-five years of Samuel Slater's coming 
to Rhode Island, it was estimated (though the figures may be too large) 
that the State's cotton factories employed 26,000 operatives, and annually 
turned 29,000 bales of cotton into 27,840,000 yards of cloth. The other 
Brown brothers and their partners followed Moses into the textile in- 
dustry; and the firm of Goddard Brothers in the twentieth century carries 
on the business begun by the firm of Brown and Ives. The present Lons- 
dale Company, incorporated in 1834, with various textile enterprises 
in the Blackstone Valley, was one of the Brown and Ives corporations, its 
'No. i ' Mill being erected in 1831. 

In 1860, about 135 cotton factories contained 766,600 spindles and 
26,090 looms, employed 12,089 operatives, and produced goods valued 

Industry and Commerce 71 

at $12,258,677. The Civil War, with the blockade of Confederate ports, 
disrupted the cotton industry for a time. Raw cotton nearly disappeared 
as a procurable commodity, its price rising from 10 cents to $1.80 per 
pound. The industry revived as soon as hostilities ceased between the 
North and South, and continued to develop thereafter. The capital 
invested increased from $6,675,000 in 1850 to $11,500,000 in 1860, and to 
$18,836,300 in 1870. In the ten years from 1870 to 1880 the number of 
cotton factories was reduced from 139 to 115, but the capital invested 
increased from $18,836,300 to $28,047,331. Five thousand more persons 
were employed, and the weight of the goods produced had risen from 
38,503,000 to 60,906,000 pounds. 

The local woolen and worsted industry became affluent at a later time, 
and less rapidly than was the case with cotton. The first broadcloth 
manufactured in Rhode Island was made by the Bellefonte Manufactur- 
ing Company in Cranston, established in 1810 by William and Christopher 
Rhodes. Other woolen and worsted mills soon followed : in North Kings- 
town by 1815, in Hopkinton by 1816, in South Kingstown (the Hazard 
enterprises) before 1819, in North Providence by 1822, in Pawtucket by 
1820, in Woonsocket by 1831, and in Providence by 1842. 

Rowland Hazard introduced carding machines at Peace Dale, and in 
1816 he installed there the first woolen power looms used in America. His 
special products were saddle girths and webbing. The profits on textiles 
were large enough to warrant steam-power, both as an auxiliary to water- 
power and as an independent source for driving machinery. The Provi- 
dence Woolen Manufacturing Company used steam-power in its factory 
in 1812, and two years later the Providence Dyeing and Calendering 
Company installed a steam engine at a cost of $17,000. As coal replaced 
wood as fuel, other steam-driven mills were built in Providence, Warren, 
Bristol, and elsewhere. 

The inventions of George H. Corliss were a decisive factor in the growth 
of the textile industries. Corliss came to Providence in 1844, to market 
a harness-sewing machine of his own invention. His interest, however, 
soon changed to steam engines, and in 1848 the firm of Corliss, Nightin- 
gale and Company built an engine for the Providence Dyeing, Bleaching 
and Calendering Company. This machine was so successful that Corliss 
later built larger engines of the same type for mills in Boston, New Bed- 
ford, and Utica. The Corliss Steam Engine Company was incorporated 
in 1856; and Corliss, as president, directed all its business activities, be- 
sides devising further improvements in his machines. His mechanical 
genius won him world-wide recognition as an authority on steam engines. 

72 Rhode Island : The General Background 

He was awarded the Rumford medal by the American Academy of Arts 
and Sciences in 1870, and by 1886 he had received honors in three foreign 

Calico printing from wooden blocks began in 1790 at East Greenwich, 
in the Mathewson and Mowry factory. Schaub, Tissot and Dubosque 
printed calico from wooden blocks at Providence in 1794. The Clyde 
Bleachery and Print Works, established at Warwick in 1828, engaged 
first in bleaching and finishing white cotton goods, adding single-color 
printing machines in 1833 for producing indigo-blue and white calico 
prints. The plant was enlarged and new printing machines were installed 
from time to time, until the company had equipment for printing calico 
in eight different colors. In later years, fancy dyeing and printing, as 
well as new styles of finishing cotton cloth, were introduced. The found- 
ing of the Sayles Bleachery at Saylesville, in 1847, marked the beginning 
of one of the world's largest textile finishing organizations. The present 
Cranston Print Works Company is an outgrowth of a cotton-carding and 
hand-spinning plant begun by William Sprague, before 1813; and the 
Dunnell Print Works of Pawtucket, later a branch of the United States 
Finishing Company, was in operation as early as 1817. 

The number of firms engaged in the woolen trade rose from 45 in 1850 
to 57 in 1860 and 76 in 1870. The product was valued at $2,381,825 in 
1850, at $6,915,205 in 1860, and at $15,394,067 in 1870. The great ex- 
pansion of the woolen and worsted business in Providence belongs to the 
Civil War period. The first unit of the Riverside Mills was constructed in 
1 86 1, and the Wanskuck Mills and the Waypoyset Mills were opened in 
1864. The Riverside Mills manufactured beavers, kerseys, elysians, 
ladies cloakings, and fine overcoatings, and the Waypoyset Mills achieved 
distinction by designing original patterns instead of copying imported 
fabrics. By 1890, Providence was the second woolen-manufacturing city 
in America, being outranked only by Philadelphia. In 1867, Darius Goff 
of Pawtucket invented and perfected machinery for making pile fabrics, 
including wool plush. Census statistics for 1890 showed 40 woolen mills 
in operation, 16 hosiery and knitting mills, and 28 worsted mills. The 
industry employed 19,323 persons, and the production was valued at 
$34,721,270. In 1900, some 92 companies employed 19,200 persons and 
produced goods valued at $41,385,729. 

The textile industry opened avenues for numerous related industries, 
such as the building of textile machinery. In Cumberland during the 
Revolutionary War, Oziel Wilkinson and his five sons, all blacksmiths, 
had manufactured anchors, screws, heavy oil presses, farming implements, 

Industry and Commerce 73 

and other cast and wrought-iron ware. Isaac Wilkinson, another son of 
Oziel's, cast sixty cannon at the Franklin Foundry, in Providence, for use 
in the War of 1812. For the same war, Stephen Jencks manufactured 
ten thousand muskets at Central Falls. The Wilkinsons extended their 
operations to include textile machinery, and made some of the earliest 
machines after the instructions of Samuel Slater. Other men followed 
suit, building power looms and novel types of winding, braiding, and 
ring-spinning devices. This was the beginning of what was to become 
one of Rhode Island's greatest industries. The J. and P. Coats Company, 
before removal from Paisley, Scotland, to this State, was equipped with 
machines made here. The Coats concern began operations in Pawtucket 
in 1868. Other early establishments connected with the making of textile 
machinery were Pitcher and Gay, and Charles A. Luther Company, of 
Pawtucket; Joseph and Ebenezer Metcalf, of Cumberland; the Franklin 
Machine Company, the Phenix Iron Foundry, and the Cove Machine 
Company, of Providence; and the Woonsocket Foundry, of Woonsocket. 
In 1830, Alvin Jenks and his brother-in-law, David G. Fales, began 
making textile machinery in Central Falls. There were also iron foundries 
and metal-working shops in various parts of Rhode Island, including the 
Brown and Sharpe Manufacturing Company (1833), the Eagle Screw 
Company, and the New England Screw Company (1838); the latter two 
eventually combined as the American Screw Company. 

One of the dominant industries in Providence after 1850 was that of 
jewelry manufacturing. Seril Dodge was the first jewelry manufacturer in 
the city (see PROVIDENCE}. In 1786, he had a little shop on North 
Main Street, where he specialized in the production of silver shoe buckles; 
but to his brother, Nehemiah, has been attributed the major credit of 
beginning the vast jewelry business of America. In 1794, Nehemiah 
Dodge opened a shop on North Main Street, a little to the south of Saint 
John's Church, as a silversmith, goldsmith, and watch-repairer. He 
removed in 1798 to a shop south of the First Baptist Meeting-House. 
While working on individual orders in fine gold, Dodge conceived the idea 
of building up his trade by using a less expensive kind of metal. Up to 
that time persons of means were the only ones able to afford jewelry. 
Nehemiah Dodge hired journeymen jewelers, goldsmiths, and silver- 
smiths, and added a number of apprentices to his working force. He is 
reputed to have perfected a system of washing baser metal, called the 
prototype of the electro-gilding process, the use of which reduced the 
prices of jewelry to popular levels. Dodge greatly enlarged his business, 
conducting a shop where customers could make their selections from 

74 Rhode Island : The General Background 

stock manufactured in advance. Thus he shaped the local jewelry busi- 
ness of Providence and set the pattern for manufacturing and retail 
establishments elsewhere. 

Jabez Gorham, one of Nehemiah Dodge's apprentices, became a 
journeyman silversmith, and made silver spoons that he sold from house 
to house. From this humble trade originated the immense business of the 
Gorham Manufacturing Company in Providence. By 1810, there were 
approximately 100 workers in the various jewelry shops, producing goods 
valued at $100,000. During the next ten years, the number of workmen 
increased to 300, and the value of their work to $600,000. Census returns 
for 1850 placed Rhode Island third in respect to the number of persons 
employed in manufacturing jewelry, and by 1880 the State had attained 
first place in the trade. The City of Providence, in which 142 of the 148 
establishments were situated, had a production valued at $5,444,092 
annually. In 1899, a survey of the industry disclosed 249 firms, with 
a total investment of $10,655,227; 8767 persons were employed; and the 
jewelry produced was valued at $19,445,327. 

The diversity of nineteenth-century Rhode Island industry included 
the production, beyond the major items noted above, of paint, rubber 
goods, yacht and ship pulleys, proprietary medicines, soap, stoves, sewing 
machines, twine, hardware, printing machinery, drugs and chemicals, 
baking powder, wire, and fire extinguishers. 

Rhode Island is now the most highly industrialized State in the Union. 
In 1930, 151,462 persons out of a total working population of 297,072, 
constituting more than 50 per cent, were engaged in industry. In 1933 
the number of persons so occupied was 134 per thousand of the entire 
population, whereas the average for the country as a whole was 49 per 
thousand. Rhode Island also heads the list of States in the per capita 
wealth produced by the manufacturing process $243 per person in 1933, 
compared to $118 for the country at large. 

The nature of the present industrial structure allows the grouping of 
manufacture in Rhode Island into a few principal divisions: (i) textiles, 
(2) metal trades, (3) jewelry and silverware, (4) rubber goods, and (5) 
miscellaneous. According to the payrolls of December, 1935, the relative 
importance of these groups was as follows: textiles, more than 57 per cent 
of the total; metal trades, nearly 14 per cent; jewelry and silverware, about 
10 per cent; rubber goods, less than 3 per cent; and miscellaneous in- 
dustries, about 16 per cent. 

Measured by any criterion, the making of textiles is Rhode Island's 
most important industry, and within this industry the making of woolens 

Industry and Commerce 75 

and worsteds is the most important branch. Rhode Island is outranked 
only by Massachusetts in the manufacture of woolens and worsteds, 
employing 16.8 per cent of the total workers of the country in this 

The local woolen and worsted industry is largely, though not ex- 
clusively, a city enterprise; and of Rhode Island's seven incorporated 
cities, Woonsocket is the great center of the industry. Woonsocket con- 
tains six mills, which employ more than five hundred workers each, in 
addition to a great number of smaller establishments. The Rhode Island 
woolen and worsted industry has shown a definite improvement in past 
years, its gross income having increased steadily from 1899 to 1931. The 
healthy condition of this industry is in contrast to many dark aspects of 
the contemporary textile picture. At the present time, the industry 
shows not only a sustained purchasing power, but an increase in the 
number of workers employed. (There were 19,436 workers in 1935 as 
compared with 16,438 a year before.) 

The cotton mills of Rhode Island are fairly widely distributed, many of 
the larger ones being outside the cities a condition less true of most 
other branches of manufacture. Rhode Island ranks sixth among the 
States of the Union in number of employes engaged in cotton manu- 
facture. The Textile World for February, 1936, calls the cotton industry 
'tough' because of the conditions it has been able to survive, and this 
generalization about the industry as a whole applies especially to Rhode 
Island mills. The migration of the cotton industry from New England to 
the South has been going on for some time, but the full extent of the 
change is not often clearly recognized. The movement began more than 
thirty years ago, and for some time New England minimized its im- 
portance. As the Southern textile industry developed first in the field of 
coarse goods, the North went in for medium and fine grade yarns, and for 
a time both sections enjoyed a healthy growth. From 1910 on, however, 
things changed rapidly, until in 1931 the South was ahead by a consider- 
able margin in all grades. The South now manufactures 81 per cent of all 
cotton yarn, and 61 per cent of the fine grade yarn, the manufacture of 
which New England formerly monopolized. There were only 70 per cent 
as many persons employed in the Rhode Island cotton industry in 1933 as 
in 1899. This loss is due in part to the introduction of labor-saving ma- 
chinery a consideration which does not, however, appreciably offset 
the factor of increasing Southern competition. Notwithstanding the 
general decline in the cotton industry, Rhode Island has now about three- 
quarters of the number of persons employed in 1899; it uses about one- 

76 Rhode Island : The General Background 

third the amount of raw cotton that was consumed in 1913; and it realizes 
a gross income of about one and one-half times that of 1899. 

The silk and rayon situation in Rhode Island is rather difficult to 
analyze, since figures are difficult to obtain and there is much confusion 
in terminology. It has been suggested that what has been called the silk 
industry should now be recognized as silk and rayon, because it is impos- 
sible to consider one product without the other. Rayon has been forging 
ahead since 1929, especially on a materials-used basis; but indices drawn 
from silk and rayon combined do not reveal favorable conditions. The 
number of workers employed decreased markedly from 1933 to the end 

of 1935- 

In addition to the weaving of cotton and woolen goods, a considerable 
branch of the textile business has to do with what is called 'finishing'; 
and this branch, as well as other subdivisions of the industry, accounts for 
a number of large factories distributed fairly evenly among the cities and 

Rhode Island ranks first in the Union as a jewelry-manufacturing 
State, employing 37 per cent of the workers nationally engaged in that 
industry. As the textile industry had its Slater, jewelry had its Nehemiah 
Dodge, who became in 1794 the first to manufacture jewelry on a large 
scale in America. From this beginning the industry has grown, until 
today Providence is known throughout the world as a jewelry center. 
Jewelry has a seasonal pattern of production; the high point comes in 
October, from which it declines into July, then rises again very rapidly 
into its fall peak. The industry has consistently maintained a fairly 
prosperous condition since 1899, although there was a noticeable decline 
between 1929 and 1931. 

The local metal trades are broadly classified under three headings 
nuts and bolts, textile machinery, and general machinery. The best 
available index for these trades for any length of time is that of average 
daily consumption of power. On this basis, the nut and bolt trade may be 
said to have declined steadily from 1929 to 1932, and thereafter to have 
risen until in January, 1936, it was a little above the 1930 level. The same 
general statement holds true of the two other branches, textile machinery 
and general machinery. The Rhode Island metal trades are carried on 
almost exclusively in the large cities, and most extensively in Provi- 

Figures on the rubber industry are not available over a long period of 
years. The State Department of Labor noted 4499 employees in eight 
plants as of December, 1935 a gain of about 8 per cent over December 

Industry and Commerce 77 

of the previous year. On a power-consumption basis, the rubber industry 
stood 8 per cent higher in January, 1936, than a year previously. 

The principal miscellaneous industries in the State produce paper boxes, 
brick, glass bulbs, confectionery and ice cream, coated paper and card- 
board, display cases, baking powder, fishing tackle, embossed labels, 
paints, and radio tubes. 

It would appear that the year 1935 witnessed the first sustained re- 
covery from the depression of the past several years. Improvement was 
noticeable in the woolen and worsted industry; jewelry was hi a better 
condition than in 1934; and general industrial payrolls and employment 
rosters were larger than in the preceding year. Rhode Island retail and 
wholesale business seemed to be improving consistently in 1936. 


IN RHODE ISLAND manufacturing has long outranked other economic 
interests. Textiles, with the related machinery and dyeing industries, 
were destined to attain a commanding position after the year 1790. It 
was then that Samuel Slater, an English immigrant, defeated the English 
embargo on machinery and machine-design by constructing from memory 
several Arkwright spinning machines, and installing them in a water- 
power plant at Pawtucket. Rhode Island has hence been considered the 
birthplace of the textile industry in America. 

The coming of mill industries to Rhode Island caused an abrupt change 
in the life of the people. Before the advent of manufacturing, production 
had been chiefly for local needs. The work of spinning yarn and making 
cloth, for example, had been carried on in the home by the womenfolk. 
They began and finished their product, and saw it put to use. Other 
workers, such as farmers, blacksmiths, and millers, included payment 
for their services in the price of their product. They made their own in- 
dividual profit as a matter of individual trade. Even seamen, whose work 
was collective, were paid more or less directly hi shares of the cargo's 
value. With the coming of the factory, the economic process became less 
direct and simple. Workers sold their labor, but not the product of their 
labor; the workers who spun yarn, for example, were not spinning it for 
their own cloth, and they had nothing to do with its use or sale. Earnings 
did not depend directly on the price received for the sale of the product. 

This radical change in the manner of production was not altogether 
welcomed by the people. Many men found factory life less attractive 
than cultivating the soil or sailing on merchant ships. 

The English mechanic largely responsible for Rhode Island's successful 
nurture of the infant textile industry was Samuel Slater (see PAW- 
TUCKET). Having completely memorized the Arkwright process, he 
smuggled his secrets out of England. For a short time in the late lySo's, 
he worked for the New York Manufacturing Company, one of the many 
unsuccessful textile corporations which were already springing up about 
the country. From the captain of a ship he learned of the new firm of 
Almy and Brown, in Pawtucket, and he wrote to Moses Brown offering 
his services. Brown agreed to hire him, and gave him complete technical 

Labor 79 

supervision of the plant. Although Slater subsequently acquired a half 
interest in the corporation, his status was that of a hired employee. This 
is an important fact because it reveals the early pattern which the in- 
dustry assumed. Slater stood in the top rank of skilled laborers. His 
importance was not considered equal to that of Moses Brown, who had 
supplied the capital, nor was his function considered as important as that 
of Almy, the agent for the finished product. In other words, despite his 
interest in the firm, he was not a capitalist. However, the actual direction 
was in his hands, and by the workers for the firm of Almy, Brown and 
Slater, he was considered the employer. In the subsequent expansion of 
the industry, other master laborers who held a position corresponding to 
Slater's were also classed as employers. After Slater had imported a few 
English skilled laborers and had succeeded in training a few Americans, 
the pattern became complete and the industry was divided into the 
following strata: on the bottom were the unskilled laborers, above them 
came the skilled laborers, next appeared the master-labor-employer, and 
on top was capital. It was not until the later i85o's that many capitalists 
or members of their families actually went into a mill to learn about the 
rudiments of their business. 

Between 1790 and 1820, the textile industry took strong root and be- 
came an accepted part of American life. Yarn was spun in mills, and 
' let out ' either to small weaving establishments or to homes. A few years 
later, the mills began to take care of most of the weaving; and in 1817, 
when the power loom was introduced, domestic weaving disappeared as 
a part of the industry. During these first thirty years, the young in- 
dustry experienced many vicissitudes. There was sharp competition, 
both at home and abroad; there were periods of excessive demand and 
low demand; there were prosperity and peak employment, depression and 
unemployment. The relative success of the firm of Almy, Brown and 
Slater moved other wealthy men to take their capital from shipping to 
invest it in industry. The War of 1812 stimulated the industry in Amer- 
ica; but after peace had been restored, it languished, until a protective 
tariff kept out some of the foreign competition. Before 1830 there were 
at least a dozen large mills in Rhode Island, in addition to a number of 
smaller ones, all fighting for existence. In 1829 there was a short-lived 
but disastrous panic. 

The growth of the textile industry naturally caused a great increase in 
the number of mill laborers. One record states that between 1820 and 
1830 the textile industry employed 26,000 operatives; but this estimate 
is undoubtedly too high, since the total population in 1820 was only 

8o Rhode Island : The General Background 

83,000. A report for 1831 gives 8500 operatives, of which number 1700 
were men, about 3300 were women, and 3400 were children between the 
ages of seven and fourteen. 

The early mills were located in remote rural districts where water- 
power could be secured. Their isolation made it difficult to attract 
enough labor. To meet this latter difficulty, the family hiring system 
was instituted almost at the outset. Mill villages sprang up around water- 
power sites, with homes built by the mills and rented to the operatives. 
'Help wanted' advertisements in the newspapers were directed, not to 
individuals, but to whole families. Some of the advertisements even 
specified the minimum allowable number of children for applicants. 
Wages were so small that as a rule no family could survive unless most of 
its members were working. Weekly wages for the period of 1810-30 were 
approximately $5.25 for men, $2.20 for women, and $1.25 for children. 
A week constituted six days of from twelve to fourteen hours each, or a 
maximum of 84 working hours. Many of the mills used a scale of wages 
based on age and length of service; an employee was given a slight in- 
crease with each successive year, and there was a higher minimum or 
beginner's wage for workers over fourteen years of age. The service 
increases had a maximum limit, higher for men than for women. 

Samuel Slater and the other employers did not trouble much about the 
education of the children in their employ. They confined themselves to 
hiring a man to teach school subjects on Sundays. The pressure for free 
public education came from a different quarter. One of the chief spokes- 
men of the new movement was Seth Luther, a crusader against all of the 
evils of the textile industry. He pleaded for education as a means of 
eradicating ignorance and depravity. In 1836, the Children's Friends 
Society of Rhode Island was formed to promote child education and 
welfare. In 1840, a law was passed requiring every child under the age of 
twelve to attend school for at least twelve months before starting to work. 

The crusade for free public education did not begin to take definite 
shape until the organized labor movement had already a history of ten 
years' activity. The lead was taken by the women. Indeed, the strike of 
the ' female weavers' in Pawtucket in 1824 is not only one of the first 
instances of labor activity in Rhode Island it is the first instance of 
women participating in activities of labor organizations in the United 
States. In December, 1825, a convention of workingmen was held in 
Providence, at which delegates from five New England States were 
present. In February, 1826, a General Association was organized; and 
shortly afterward a local unit, called the Providence Association of 

Labor 81 

Workingmen, was formed. This organization appears to have been either 
short-lived or inactive. Five years later, in December, 1831, the New 
England Association of Farmers, Mechanics, and Other Workingmen 
was formed in Providence, 'to use mature methods to concentrate the 
efforts of the laboring class, regulate hours of labor by one uniform stand- 
ard, to promote the cause of education and general information, to reform 
abuses practiced upon them, and to maintain their rights as American 
Freemen.' Their objectives were a reduction of the working day to ten 
hours without a corresponding reduction in wages, extra payment for 
overtime, restriction of labor for women and children, abolition of 
monopolies, and abrogation of the law demanding imprisonment for 
debt. The Association lasted only three years, holding its final meeting 
at Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1834. 

Two other unions, evidently independent of the New England Associa- 
tion, were already in existence the Practical Masons, and the House 
Carpenters, forerunners of the masons' and carpenters' unions of the 
present day. Although 1834 marked the end of the New England Associa- 
tion, it also marked the beginning of local activity in favor of the National 
Trade Union, an organization which was working for shorter hours 
throughout the entire textile industry. Between 1834 and 1837, there 
were several strikes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but none of 
any importance were reported in Rhode Island. 

During the period 1836-40, a new labor factor came into the scene 
namely, the immigration of workers from Ireland and Canada. For the 
first thirty years of textile manufacture, the majority of laborers had 
been native Americans, but in 1832 Seth Luther began to inveigh against 
' the unrighteous conduct of manufacturers who import foreign workmen 
to cut down wages of American citizens.' These immigrants formed the 
vanguard of a host that continued to increase during the 1 840*5 and 
i85o's. Manufacturers preferred foreign laborers because the latter, 
being strangers, were more dependent than native operatives, and were 
more submissive to corporation control. Imported labor, furthermore, 
seldom possessed the vote, since few immigrants had $134 worth of real 
property or paid the tax which would entitle them to suffrage and hence 
to a voice in the demand for favorable labor legislation. Reform move- 
ments in the field of labor were advancing more rapidly in other States 
than in Rhode Island. 

In 1844, the New England Workingmen's Association was formed. 
It existed for two years and then became the Labor Reform League, 
which lasted until 1848. But there is little evidence that either of these 

82 Rhode Island : The General Background 

organizations was able to accomplish much. However, in 1846 the first 
National Industrial Congress was held, and for ten years this organiza- 
tion memorialized the Congress in Washington to promote national 
labor legislation in favor of shorter hours, compulsory education, and 
abolition of the contract system of importing immigrants. 

After the first regional convention of workers, in 1825, labor organiza- 
tions gradually expanded until they covered the industrial sections of the 
entire nation. The beginning, in 1834, of the National Trade Union, 
which more or less supplanted the activities of the New England Associa- 
tion of Farmers, Mechanics, and Other Workingmen, indicates this 
widening scope. The conventions and activities of the National In- 
dustrial Congress show further development in this direction. In 1866, the 
National Labor Union was organized, and in 1868 it voted to abolish the 
fifteen-hour day for women and children in Rhode Island, but the vote 
had no effect. The Knights of Labor, founded in 1869, had by 1885 no 
less than sixty-four local assemblies in the State and a number of active 
women's benefit organizations. The Knights were the immediate pre- 
decessors of the American Federation of Labor. The dispersion of the 
Knights by the Federation meant the defeat of the objectives which 
Utopian labor leaders, such as Uriah S. Stephens and Terence V. Pow- 
derly had sought. 

During all this national labor activity, the textile industry in Rhode 
Island was going through a slow evolution. Steam-power was introduced, 
and labor-saving improvements in machinery were being constantly made. 
The mill villages of the early days had grown into towns, but without 
the company losing its influence on civic affairs. In localities where there 
had been mixed immigration (French-Canadian, Irish, English, Italian, 
Polish, Portuguese), there was little harmony or co-operation among the 
workers. In fact, while the national labor organizations were taking 
shape and becoming more active, those of Rhode Island remained small 
and inactive. In 1885, a ten-hour-day law for women and children was 
finally passed, but no means were provided for its enforcement. Massa- 
chusetts had already an enforcible ten-hour law, and had put strong 
restrictions on child labor. In the early iSyo's, 'border trouble' arose 
between the two States, caused by Massachusetts mill families moving 
into Rhode Island in order to benefit from their children's labor. In 
1899, the first factory inspectors were appointed in Rhode Island. These 
appointments were the State's provision for enforcing the ten-hour law. 

In 1909, a State board was created for the purpose of informing the 
public about general industrial and labor conditions, and of making 

Labor 83 

proposals and suggestions for improvements. The head of this board was 
the Commissioner of Industrial Statistics, whose duties were ill-defined 
and whose appropriations were small, so that little came of his work. In 
1923, the appropriations were increased, and the Bureau of Labor was 
formed, with a Deputy Commissioner to represent labor in disputes. 

Meanwhile, in 1912, the first Workmen's Compensation Act was 
passed, covering all kinds of labor except casual, domestic, and agricul- 
tural, and including all industrial establishments except those hiring 
fewer than five people. No provision was made for occupational diseases. 
The compensation payments covered medical expenses, in case of sick- 
ness or injury, for not less than eight weeks, with the total payment 
limited to one hundred dollars. Hospital expenses were to be paid up to 
one hundred and fifty dollars, and fifty per cent of the average weekly wage 
during absence from work. For total disability, seven to sixteen dollars 
a week were to be paid for not more than five hundred weeks; and for 
partial disability, four to ten dollars a week for not more than three 
hundred weeks. In 1921, administration of this act was transferred from 
the Superior Court to the Commissioner of Labor. The legislature of 
1935-36 changed the Workmen's Compensation Law to include thirty- 
one occupational diseases. The weekly maximum benefit payment was 
raised from sixteen to twenty dollars, the compensation period from five 
hundred to one thousand weeks, and the total amount from five thousand 
to ten thousand dollars. More adequate medical compensation is now 
provided for. The employee is given a voice in the agreement to pay 
him compensation, and payment for incapacity now begins on the fourth 
day instead of the eighth. 

In 1922 took place one of the most bitterly fought strikes in New 
England textile history. The depression of 1921 and increasing Southern 
competition caused drastic reductions in wages, some of which amounted, 
over a period of two years, to as much as forty-two per cent. There was 
an energetic protest. On January 23, 1922, eleven mule spinners in 
Pawtucket went on strike; as others followed, the strike spread through- 
out New England. It lasted until the middle of September, when the 
majority of mills opened again. In Rhode Island, thirty-four mills, 
employing eighteen thousand workers, were involved. About half of the 
striking workers belonged to unions, of which the Amalgamated Textile 
Workers and the United Textile Workers were the strongest. The em- 
ployers asserted that they could not pay higher wages and run the mills 
at a profit. Labor leaders agreed that the workers would return to their 
machines if the employers could prove this assertion, but the latter re- 

84 Rhode Island : The General Background 

fused to open their books to Federal and State mediators. A compromise 
on wages and hours was reached in September. In many cases, differences 
were settled locally, and in two of the largest Rhode Island mills company 
unions were set up. The effects of Southern competition brought local 
wage cuts, causing another protest strike in 1934, which began in August 
and lasted about three weeks. 

Metal trades and jewelry rank next in importance after textiles in the 
State's industrial life, but neither of these trades has played any signifi- 
cant part in labor history. 

The American Federation of Labor has for more than thirty years 
maintained an office, for the entire State, at Providence. Its list of 
affiliates includes more than thirty active locals, some of which, such as 
the Building Trades Council, Carpenters' District Council, and the 
United Textile Workers, have offices of their own. Exact membership 
and employment figures are not available. The Federation holds two 
conventions a year on the last Saturday and Sunday in April, and the 
first Saturday and Sunday in October. At the April convention, officers 
are elected for the coming year. An Executive Council, consisting of ten 
vice-presidents, meets on the first Saturday of each month; the principal 
function of this council is to work for legislation. No executive power 
is vested in the conventions. 

Mediation, conciliation, discussion, and settlements of differences are 
undertaken by the Providence Central Federated Union, or 'Central 
Body/ which is made up of delegates from the local unions. 

Of several independent unions in the State, the largest is the Inde- 
pendent Textile Union, founded at Woonsocket in March, 1932. This 
is an industrial union claiming, in its seven thousand members, ninety- 
five per cent of the working population of Woonsocket. The genesis of 
this union, and its relative success, indicate a trend in the textile industry 
toward the so-called 'vertical union.' Continued improvements in ma- 
chinery, with the consequent leveling-off of skill, point to a virtual dis- 
appearance of the craft union. 

The years 1935 and 1936 marked a great improvement in labor legis- 
lation in Rhode Island. In May, 1935, a Department of Labor -was 
formed, with a new and increased personnel. The Department is headed 
by the Director of Labor, supplanting the former Commissioner; and it 
comprises the three divisions of Labor Relationships, Industrial Inspec- 
tion, and Unemployment Compensation. The last-named division 
operates seven Public Employment Offices throughout the State. In 
1935, forty-four amendments to the General Laws, relating directly or 

Labor 85 

indirectly to labor, were enacted. A Division of Women and Children 
has been established as a separate unit, to insure better surveillance of 
conditions among women and minors. The Child Labor amendment 
raised the minimum age for industrial labor from fifteen to sixteen. The 
law regulating industrial home work is aimed to abolish the sweatshop 
and improve home conditions, thus indirectly aiding public health. The 
Department of Public Health is co-ordinated with the Department of 
Labor in its new Division of Industrial Hygiene. The Prevailing Wage 
Law requires the Department of Labor to make findings of prevailing 
wage rates in the construction industry, and to enforce prevailing wages 
to be paid by the State, city, or private contractors. The Anti-Injunction 
Law aims to prevent the hasty and unwarranted issuance of injunctions 
in labor disputes. 

In addition to revising its labor laws, Rhode Island has entered into a 
compact with Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, 
New York, and Pennsylvania, for the purpose of 'establishing uniform 
standards for conditions of employment, particularly with regard to the 
minimum wage.' 


RHODE ISLAND, within its small land area of 1084 square miles, has 
193 miles of railroads and 1133 miles of highways. Its water area of 413 
square miles, of which Narragansett Bay is a large portion, has made 
Rhode Island a shipping center. The total annual bulk of goods trans- 
ported by ship to and from its ports averages 5,500,000 tons, most of 
which is handled in Providence, and a small but growing part in Paw- 
tucket. There are more than twenty local and interstate bus lines in 
operation, carrying both passengers and freight. There are eight airports. 

Colonial Rhode Island attached an almost Venetian importance to its 
waterways. The many small rivers between the Pawcatuck and Nar- 
ragansett Bay, together with the bay itself, offered unlimited opportu- 
nities for water transport, and at the same time presented obstacles to 
transport by land. Since the early settlements were nearly all within a 
few miles of the seacoast or the bay shores, travel by boat was logical 
and expedient. 

Ferries were the earliest public utility to demand the attention of 
Colonial authorities. They were needed not only for passage across the 
rivers, but also for more or less regular transportation service between 
the islands in Narragansett Bay and the mainland. Very soon after the 
founding of Providence, a ferry service was established for crossing the 
Moshassuck River in the downtown vicinity now known as Market 
Square. The river still flows here, though its noisome and sluggish waters 
are largely hidden by an expansive viaduct. Another early ferry was 
established in Providence near the present Point Street Bridge, and 
several miles farther north one crossed the Blackstone River near the 
site of the present Lonsdale. 

To connect Providence with what is now East Providence, ferries 
operated on the Seekonk River at the approximate locations of the Red 
Bridge and the Washington Bridge. From East Providence the old 
Wampanoag Indian Trail led to Boston, and the Montaup Trail to 
Newport, necessitating ferries over the Barrington and Warren Rivers, 
and also at Bristol, over an arm of the bay which is now spanned by the 
Mount Hope Bridge (the latter did not replace ferry service until October, 
1929). In the eastern part of the Colony, about 1640, a ferry was 

Transportation 87 

opened between Tiverton and Portsmouth, where the Stone Bridge now 

Colonial and later ferries were numerous. There were ferries to Pru- 
dence Island from Portsmouth and Warwick, to Jamestown from New- 
port and Saunderstown, and to Watch Hill from Stonington, Connecticut. 
The ferryboats were of all sizes and descriptions long rowboats, flat 
scows, sailing vessels, and, in the nineteenth century, boats powered with 
steam. Control of ferries passed from the State to Federal control after 
the Gibbons vs. Ogden case in 1824. 

The development of a ferry system was paralleled by the construction 
of bridges, beginning with small, frail spans over the narrow streams. 
The first bridge in Providence spanned the Moshassuck at the present 
Market Square. Another early bridge was thrown across the Pawtuxet 
River at the Cranston-Warwick boundary line. To build a bridge over 
the Blackstone River, where it widens and becomes the Seekonk, Rhode 
Island sought the co-operation of Massachusetts, and for one across the 
Pawcatuck, the assistance of Connecticut, obtained after long disputes 
over boundaries. When spring freshets carried away the early structures 
they were rebuilt with the aid of lotteries. 

Rhode Island did not build roads as a colony; committees or com- 
missions of the Legislature merely supervised their location and con- 
struction. In later times the State authorized lotteries to assist in raising 
money for this purpose, but the actual road-building had to be assumed 
by the towns. The policy of t every town for its own roads ' applied gen- 
erally to Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as Rhode Island. The 
towns chose surveyors, who called out men to work. When, in 1798, the 
State authorized the towns to levy taxes for road-building purposes, many 
men paid their assessments with labor. 

Communication along the seacoast and in the bay was at first carried 
on with any available boat, but by the eighteenth century a packet 
service was inaugurated. Packets were vessels averaging seventy-five to 
one hundred tons burden, and were usually sloop-rigged. Providence 
Williams, son of Roger, owned a packet in 1675. The packet 'Hannah' 
achieved undying fame in history books by luring the man-of-war 
'Gaspee' onto a sandspit near Warwick in 1772. These boats carried 
both freight and passengers, they ventured far beyond State boundaries, 
and by the latter part of the century they attempted to run on fairly 
regular schedules. The trip to New York, however, varied between 
eighteen hours and a week, depending on wind and weather (the shorter 
passage was devoutly hoped for by the shipmaster, since the passengers' 

88 Rhode Island : The General Background 

board came out of his pocket). Narragansett Bay was literally criss- 
crossed with packet and ferry lines. 

Rhode Island was the scene of a steamboat trip considerably antedating 
that of Fulton's 'Clermont.' In 1796, Elijah Ormsbee installed a steam 
engine in a ship's longboat, fed it from a boiler which was taken from a 
large copper still, and made a successful trial propulsion against wind and 
tide. He lacked, however, the funds and political connections necessary 
to establish the new method of navigation. A Fulton-built boat, the 
'Firefly,' was brought to the State, in 1817, to make the run between 
Providence and Newport; she remained in service but a short time. 

The first regular steamboat service was founded in 1822, when two 
vessels controlled by the Livingston-Fulton monopoly of New York 
State began service between New York City and Providence, with a stop 
at Newport. Other steamboats appeared in local waters shortly there- 
after: the 'Washington' (1825), the 'Benjamin Franklin' (1828), and 
the 'President' (1829). These boats were wood-burners, and the fifteen 
or twenty hours' run to or from New York required a quantity of fuel that 
almost covered their decks. Masts and sails were retained to assist the 
engines when the wind was favorable. Rival companies of the New York 
concern began to send boats into the State about 1830. The famous 
'Lexington' made its first trip to Providence in 1835, the year that rail 
traffic began between the latter city and Boston. This vessel was burned 
off Huntington, Long Island, in 1840, with a loss of all but four of more 
than a hundred passengers and crew. 

The early railroads served as feeders for the steamboat lines. When, 
for instance, rail service was established from Boston through Providence 
to Stonington, Connecticut, in 1837, travelers from the Massachusetts 
capital going to New York used the rail line to Stonington and went on 
from there by boat. 

Providence did not become an important port until after the mid- 
nineteenth century, when a satisfactory channel was completed in the 
upper bay. Prior to that time, beginning with the late seventeenth 
century, Newport held its prestige as the State's chief port. Bristol and 
Warren were also important, principally as home ports for whaling ves- 
sels. Bristol enjoyed twenty years of this commerce, between 1827 and 
1847, whereas Warren carried it on for a hundred years (1760-1861), 
although its activities were suspended during the privateering period 
before and during the Revolution. 

A survey looking toward the improvement of Providence Harbor was 
made in 1853 under Lieutenant William A. Rosecrans (later a Union 

Transportation 89 

general), but the channel to the city docks was not secured until 1873; 
its depth was twelve feet. In the meantime, in 1847, steamboat service 
began between Fall River and New York, a development which threat- 
ened to overshadow the importance of the Rhode Island city as a port. 
The Fall River Line has maintained its importance as a ' Sound Route' 
line to New York more consistently than have the Providence routes, 
such as the Commercial Line (1851), the Neptune Line (1863), and the 
Merchants' Steamship Company (1865). In 1893, the all-embracing 
New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad obtained control of the 
Providence and Fall River Lines. Service was suspended in 1918 owing 
to the World War, was reopened later, but was finally discontinued from 
Providence in May, 1937. The Colonial Line began operations in 1910. 

Rhode Island, like the other Atlantic States, had its 'Turnpike Era.' 
A turnpike (whether its surface was hard enough to turn the point of a 
pike or not) was a roadway controlled by a corporation which could legally 
charge tolls for profits and upkeep. The first local turnpike charters 
were granted just before 1800, and the last in 1842. A majority of the 
toll roads were located in the northern part of the State, such as the 
Providence-to-Boston Pike, the Providence-to-Norwich Pike, and the 
Providence-to-Connecticut Pike through Foster. One of the longest pikes 
was that from Providence to Westerly. About the middle of the nine- 
teenth century the Legislature authorized the towns to purchase toll 
bridges and turnpikes, so that there were few of either left in private 
hands by 1870. 

Another phase of transportation development, and one which passed 
very quickly, was canal-building. The second quarter of the nineteenth 
century witnessed a canal construction fever throughout the eastern 
United States. Rhode Island's share in this activity was the Blackstone 
Canal, from Providence to Worcester, which was completed in 1828. 
Freight was transported through the canal on flat-bottomed boats drawn 
by horses or mules, and there was a special craft for passengers, the 
'Lady Carrington,' which made the trip in one direction each day. 
Financially, the canal was a failure, and it was abandoned after 1844, 
when the Providence- Worcester Railroad was chartered. 

The first steam train on rails connected Providence with Boston in 
June, 1835; all of this railroad was in Massachusetts except the short 
distance from East Providence across the Seekonk River, near the present 
Washington Bridge, to India Point. The latter remained the city's rail- 
road terminus for some time. Travelers were accommodated at the 
Tockwotton House, the grounds of which, somewhat altered with the 

Rhode Island : The General Background 

passing years, now form Tockwotton Park. A short rail line from Provi- 
dence to Stonington, Connecticut, was opened in 1837. The Providence 
end of this railroad was on the opposite side of the Providence River from 
the Boston line, but through passengers were given ferry service. The 
Providence- Worcester Railroad began operations in 1847, with a southern 
terminus near the present Exchange Place. A year later all three rail- 
roads agreed on the latter site for a Union Station. The present Union 
Station was constructed in 1898, after the old Providence Cove had been 
filled in. The State regulated all railroad lines by local legislation from 
1851 until 1887, when the Interstate Commerce Commission assumed 
jurisdiction over the interstate lines. 

A fourth line, the Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad, which 
served these three communities and had a branch also to Fall River, was 
begun, after a great deal of agitation and struggle, in 1853. In the i84o's 
an omnibus line, with horse-drawn vehicles, was in operation between 
Warren and Bristol. The citizens of Warren became indignant over a 
report that a railroad tunnel would be constructed beneath their main 
street, rendering it impassable during the work. In 1849, they began 
agitation for omnibus service, hoping thereby to save their street and 
bring the railroad to terms. 

A compromise was reached about the railroad's right of way, sparing 
the destruction of the main street; work was started, and the first loco- 
motive chugged its way over the rails on the Fourth of July, 1855. The 
tunnel in Providence, running from a point between Meeting and Angell 
Streets, just west of Benefit Street, to the approximate end of East 
George Street, near the Seekonk River, was built in 1904, so that the line 
could come into the Union Station on its own tracks. Before that time, 
the trains had come into the India Point terminal and were then trans- 
ferred to the Union Railway Company's tracks. Also hi 1904, legislation 
was enacted to permit the New York, New Haven and Hartford to con- 
solidate all other railroads in the State, and since that time the Provi- 
dence, Warren and Bristol has been known as the Consolidated. The 
railroad electrified its service in 1900, operating trolley trains. The 
branch from Warren to Fall River was replaced by motor-coach service 
in 1932; and in 1933, wire-fed electric trains were replaced with Diesel- 
electric cars. 

Street railways were first utilized in the metropolitan area Provi- 
dence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls in 1864, with cars drawn by 
horses. The first electric line was opened in Woonsocket twenty-four 
years later, and in Providence in 1892. At the turn of the century, there 

Transportation 91 

were some 214 miles of electric railways in the State. About twenty years 
later this type of transportation, suffering from increasing automobile 
competition, began to decline rapidly. In 1922 the General Assembly put 
' jitneys ' out of service by stringent legislation, but this did not end the 
competition from private automobiles. The present United Electric 
Railways Company, which operates the remaining lines in the metropoli- 
tan area, was organized in 1919. The tunnel under College Hill, con- 
necting the business center with the more elevated East Side, was under- 
taken in 1914. 

During the development of the railroads, shipping was not neglected. 
Minor improvements were made from time to time in Providence Harbor. 
In 1867 the first steps were taken toward making the neighboring city of 
Pawtucket a seaport. The city received an appropriation from the 
Metropolitan Terminal Development Commission for the improvement 
of its Seekonk River channel. Ten years were required to dig a channel 
75 feet wide by 7 feet deep. Another appropriation in 1883 allowed 
expansion of the channel to the width of 100 feet and a depth of 12 feet. 
In 1899 the channel was extended to Division Street Bridge, only a few 
hundred yards from the center of the city. Pawtucket's shipping now 
averages nearly 400,000 tons annually, making it second to Providence, 
whose annual average is about 5,000,000 tons. Newport, for many years 
the chief port of the State, now averages about 125,000 tons, and Warren 
and Bristol, receiving only goods for local industries, handle much less. 
The principal goods received at the ports of Providence and Pawtucket, 
in order of their importance, are oil, coal, lumber, cotton, and wool. 

Rhode Islanders gained their first glimpse of practical aeronautics in 
1856, when James K. Allen and his son, Ezra, made a balloon ascension. 
The elder Allen made a special ascension for exhibition purposes as late 
as 1906, on the Fourth of July, during the course of which performance 
he disappeared into storm-clouds for some time and was given up as lost 
by the watchers below. A modern passenger air line began to operate 
between Newport and New York in 1923. The State airport at Hills- 
grove was authorized in 1930; but because of obstacles encountered in 
the construction, regular interstate service was not begun there until 1936. 

Since Rhode Island is the smallest State in the Union, it is interesting 
to compare a few of its highway figures with those of Texas, the largest 
State. Texas has a total of 188,539 m il es of roads of all descriptions, 
19,737 miles of which are highways; Rhode Island's roads of all descrip- 
tions cover 2739 miles, 1133 miles of which are highways. In the two 
States there is an extreme difference in the density of population to the 

92 Rhode Island : The General Background 

square mile Texas having the smallest in the Union, 22.2; Rhode 
Island the largest, 644.3. These figures throw an interesting light on the 
maximum use of highways. While Texas has less than one-tenth of a 
mile of highway per square mile of area, Rhode Island has more than a 
mile. On an area basis, therefore, Rhode Island's highway mileage is 
more than ten times that of Texas, but Rhode Island's density of popula- 
tion is nearly thirty times that of Texas, so that this State has to make a 
much more intensive use of its highway system. 


THE history of agriculture in Rhode Island began in 1635, when William 
Blackstone settled in what is now Cumberland, then considered a part of 
Massachusetts, and planted a little garden and some sweeting apple 
trees. More extensive cultivation of the soil began at Providence in 1636. 
Confronted with dense timberland at the outset, and provided with but 
few and crude tools, the early settlers were taxed to the fullest of their 
ingenuity to make farming even self-supporting. Soon after 1636, the 
colonists introduced European fruits, grain, and domestic livestock, and 
began the cultivation of corn, pumpkins, squashes, and beans. Food 
prices were high at first, but declined from 1676 on; and soon the hardy 
inhabitants were able to produce, not only for their own use but also for 
export, potatoes, corn, beans, tobacco, beef, pork, mutton, butter, cheese, 
hides, and wool. 

In Colonial times the Narragansett country from Warwick southward 
was divided into great estates upon which resided a landed aristocracy. 
These estates were subdivided into farms of about three hundred acres 
each, which were worked by Negro slaves and some Indians. The In- 
dians, hunters by occupation, proved decidedly averse to drudgery on the 
soil. On the whole, their labor fell short of paying their keep. Corn, 
cheese, and wool were the staple articles produced, and when the farms 
were rented from the owners the rentals were generally paid in kind. 
Narragansett or Old South County cheese became famous not only in 
America but in England. 

The first Rowland Robinson of Narragansett is credited with the 
achievement of making trade in horses profitable in this locality. He bred 
horses of Arabian origin with native stock, and the crossbreed became 
known as the 'Narragansett Pacer.' Very fleet, and with a fine even gait, 
horses of this breed became popular as saddle mounts, and were capable of 
carrying a good-sized load in addition to the rider. South County farmers 
raised these horses in goodly numbers, and prospered. So many were sold 
annually in the West Indies and Virginia that at last not a horse of the 
breed was left in Narragansett. 

The land in the north and west portions of the State was not so well 
adapted to agriculture as that in the southern part. Thus the best soil 

94 Rhode Island : The General Background 

was near the points of export, and farmers in those localities could readily 
market their surplus crops by water shipment. The terrain was favorable 
for sheep-raising, and flocks increased so rapidly that a wool surplus was 
available for export to England. Shipping to the West Indies became 
attractive because of the double profit realized on each voyage; lumber, 
horses, pork, butter, and cheese from Rhode Island were exchanged for 
sugar and molasses in foreign ports, particularly in the West Indies. 
Molasses served as raw material in the manufacture of a still more valu- 
able, more widely exchangeable, and less bulky product New England 

The growth of mill towns in the nineteenth century offered local farmers 
an increased market for their produce, so that farming reaped large 
returns until the rise of large-scale Western agriculture, and the con- 
struction of railroads which could carry Western products to the Atlantic 
seaboard, caused the Eastern industrial cities to become less dependent on 
locally grown, and rather more expensive, staple food supplies. 

Present-day farming, therefore, centers on commodities which may be 
profitably produced on a small scale and marketed a short distance from 
the source of supply, such as dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, 
eggs, and poultry. In general, the soil of the State is better adapted to 
forestry than farming, since a good deal of the land is quite rocky; but 
the eleven soil types present are so widely scattered that diversified 
agriculture can be conducted with reasonable profit. 

Before Rhode Island entered upon its present specialization in dairy 
and truck-garden products, it became noted for three distinctive things: 
white corn meal, greening apples, and Rhode Island Red chickens. The 
corn meal is made from white hard ' flint ' corn, ground slowly (to avoid 
frictional heat) between old-fashioned millstones turned by water-power. 
From the resulting meal the famous Rhode Island johnnycake is made. 
According to tradition, our greening apples derive originally from a tree 
brought from the Far East by Metcalf Bowler, an eighteenth-century 
merchant. This apple is appropriately named for its brilliant green skin; 
it is particularly well suited for cooking purposes, especially for pie- 
making. Rhode Island Red hens were developed in Little Compton (see 
Tour 6.4). Captain William Tripp of that town and John Macomber of 
Westport, Massachusetts, began poultry experiments in 1854, crossing 
Malay and Java cocks with Cochin China hens, and then crossing the 
resulting breed with Light Brahmas, Plymouth Rocks, and Brown Leg- 
horns, the final product being a breed with both a high egg yield and 
sound flesh for the table. The name is generally credited to Isaac C. 

Agriculture 95 

Wilbur of Little Compton; and the Red was recognized as a legitimate 
breed at the Providence poultry show in 1895. There is also a Rhode 
Island White. 

While the State was advancing rapidly along industrial lines in the 
nineteenth century, it also made considerable progress in the science of 
agriculture. Iron plows, scythes, and hoes, which used to be imported 
from Europe, were being made in America, and Rhode Islanders experi- 
mented with new tools for the care of their fields. In 1850, local farmers 
became acquainted with a subsoil plow which would loosen the earth from 
twelve to fifteen inches below the furrow. At the same time, a committee 
of a society for the promotion of domestic arts commented favorably on 
Hovey's patent hay-cutter. Hoes came to be made of one solid piece of 
steel, thus dispensing with riveting and welding. 

Between 1828 and 1857, a large number of patents were issued to Rhode 
Islanders for new farm tools, including a longitudinal corn-sheller (1828), 
grain drills (1848-49), a grass-harvester (1853), a hay-making machine 
(1855), and a corn-husker (1857). 

President Wayland of Brown University told in 1851 of a farm in the 
vicinity of Providence which in the years 1773-76 averaged 237 bushels 
of corn, 164 bushels of potatoes, and 27 tons of hay per year. With im- 
proved methods of cultivation, this same farm in the years 1847-50 
averaged 787 bushels of corn, 687 bushels of potatoes, and 225 tons of 
hay. Some of this improvement in crop yield was due to the more intelli- 
gent use of local manure, such as stable dung and fish, and some was due 
to the introduction of imported fertilizers such as Peruvian guano and 

The land surface of modern Rhode Island comprises some 693,760 
acres, of which about 44 per cent is used for general farming purposes, 
about 37 per cent is occupied by forests and sprout or scrub growth, 12 
per cent is taken up by thickly populated cities, and the remaining 7 per 
cent is accounted for by summer resorts, golf courses, and so forth. 

Of the 307,700 acres devoted to general farming, more than 38 per 
cent is used for dairy farms, the most extensive areas so employed being 
in Little Compton, Portsmouth, the Smithfields, Johnston, Foster, and 
Warwick. Dairying is the most important farm enterprise, both in point 
of the number of persons engaged and with the respect to profit, as may 
be observed from the following figures: livestock on farms January i, 
1935, 21,000 milch cows and 3000 heifers; milk produced in 1934, 127 
million pounds; average butterfat test, 3.85 per cent; milk per cow, 6050 
pounds. The herds are of Ayrshire, Guernsey, Holstein, and Jersey stock 

96 Rhode Island : The General Background 

and range in size from a few head to more than a hundred. The milk 
output finds a ready market within the State. The intelligent use of 
barn manure supplemented with lime and acid phosphate enables dairy- 
men to grow alfalfa (5000 tons in 1935) and clover, as well as 'tame' 
hay (51,000 tons in 1935); these crops, combined with ensilage, greatly 
reduce the necessity for purchased feeds. Aside from cattle, livestock on 
farms at the beginning of 1935 consisted of 3290 horses, 5965 swine, and 
2276 sheep and lambs. 

About 1 6 per cent of Rhode Island's land surface is devoted to 'pre- 
tensive farming ' that is, to farm operations carried on by State insti- 
tutions and by the owners of country estates who do not work their 
acres primarily for profit. Rhode Island State College at Kingston, which 
may be cited as a notable institution engaged in pretensive farming, 
uses for purposes of instruction and experimentation 6 acres as an arbore- 
tum, 35 acres for field investigation, and about 288 acres for garden and 
orchard crops and for livestock fodder. 

Poultry farms occupy about 10 per cent of the State's rural area. The 
poultry industry is in a flourishing condition; it is estimated that 328,000 
chickens were grown in 1935, and that the egg production of that year 
was more than 3,000,000 dozen. Turkey growing, which seemed to be 
declining a few years ago, is reviving rapidly. 

Fruit farms take up about 3 per cent of the rural area. Apples thrive 
on the heavy soil found in much of northern Rhode Island (189,000 
bushels of commercial apples were marketed in 1935); peaches are grown 
on the lighter soils near Narragansett Bay (5000 bushels were produced 
in 1935), and pears likewise (7000 bushels were produced the same year). 
Considerable quantities of small fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, 
and grapes (190 tons of the latter in 1935), are also raised in the State. 

The production of fresh vegetables is a highly specialized industry on 
the light soils of Providence, Kent, and Newport Counties. The grow- 
ing season in the last-named division is slightly longer than in other parts 
of the State, so that crops can be marketed late into the fall. The State's 
other leading crops for the year 1935 were: 697,481 bushels of potatoes 
(as compared with 450,000 bushels in 1926); 72,838 bushels of corn, and 
8704 bushels of oats. 

Nurseries are scattered about the State, the most important being on 
the Island of Rhode Island, especially in Middletown and Portsmouth, 
where shrubs and ornamental trees are very profitably grown (see Tour 
5). Flowers are raised either in the field or under glass, the principal 
varieties for cut use being carnations, roses, chrysanthemums, and snap- 

Agriculture 97 

The State's total farm acreage has declined somewhat in recent years 
(554,000 acres in 1850, 443,39 acres in 1910, 309,013 acres in 1925, 
307,725 acres in 1935); and there has been a corresponding shrinkage in 
the size of individual farms (the average was about 103 acres in 1850, 
about 79 acres in 1910, and about 71 acres in 1935). The total value of 
farm crops in 1926 was estimated at $4,700,000, and in 1934 at $7,486,000. 
The number of individual farms declined and then increased somewhat 
during the past quarter century; there were 5292 in 1910, 3911 in 1925, 
and 4327 in 1935. Farms of less than ten acres each were the only ones 
to increase in number in recent years. The average value per acre of 
farm land in 1935 was $114.51, and the average value per farm was 
$8114. The amount of crop land actually harvested in 1935 was 66,464 
acres; there were 103,536 acres of improved land, 148,514 acres of wood 
land, and 32,658 acres of untillable open pasture. 

Modern farm activities in Rhode Island are assisted by a number of 
official and voluntary organizations, some of which have been in exist- 
ence a long time. The Rhode Island Horticultural Society, for example, 
was founded in 1884, and the Rhode Island Poultry Association in 1886. 
The present State Department of Agriculture and Conservation includes 
the divisions of animal industry and milk control; entomology and plant 
industry; forests, parks, and parkways; fish and game; and the bureau 
of markets. Local farm bureaus were authorized by a legislative act of 
1915, for the purpose of developing better rural life through the distribu- 
tion of information on agriculture and home economics. The bureaus 
are an integral part of the State extension service, which is supported 
by Federal funds. 

For farm bureau work, the State is divided into three districts 
eastern, northern, and southern, each with a central office and a force of 
three agents who conduct demonstrations for adult farmers, advise the 
women on home economics, and work with boys and girls in the 4~H 
clubs and other organizations studying gardening, sewing, canning, cook- 
ing, and health problems. General headquarters for the bureau system 
are at the State College in Kingston. In addition to the State organiza- 
tions listed above, there are at least 26 other societies or associations 
directly connected with farm work. 1 The Rhode Island State Grange 
has a membership of about seven thousand. 

1 See the Almanac published annually by the Providence Journal Company. 


IT IS popularly said that three-quarters of Rhode Island's population is 
1 foreign-born.' The official census figures show, however, that this state- 
ment is based on a confusion of terms. According to the 1930 Census, 
Rhode Island in that year had a total population of 687,497, of which 
number 466,053 persons were counted as being of 'foreign white stock' 

that is to say, belonging to either one of two categories: (a) those 
born abroad of foreign white parents; (b) those born in the United States 
of foreign-born white parents. Those born abroad of foreign white parents 

the foreign-born in the strict sense of the term numbered only 
170,714, or about 25 per cent of the total population; while the native 
whites of foreign or mixed parentage numbered 295,339. The native 
whites of American-born parentage totaled 210,963. The population of 
other than white races totaled about 11,000, of whom nearly 10,000 were 

The State Census of 1936 shows a somewhat smaller total population, 
and a smaller proportion of foreign-born inhabitants. The total popula- 
tion in 1936 was 680,712; and the number of foreign-born whites was 
144,952, of whom 97,038 have been naturalized. The five largest foreign 
stocks in the State are the Italian, French-Canadian, English, Irish, and 
Polish. Exact figures on the thirty or more foreign-born elements repre- 
sented may be obtained from the census reports, but it is more important 
to gain a general idea of the part which the major groups play in the 
everyday life of the community. 

The Italians make up about 19 per cent of the total foreign-born 
group. Though some Italians came to Rhode Island in the latter half 
of the nineteenth century, the 'big immigration' took place between 1900 
and 1915. The great majority of these newcomers were of the peasant 
class. On their arrival they were perplexed by radical differences in 
language, customs, and environment. Added to these difficulties was the 
pressing necessity of earning a livelihood. At first the majority worked 
as unskilled laborers, while some became street vendors and small shop- 
keepers. In more recent years the migration to this country has included 
a larger number of professional men and others who were able to estab- 
lish themselves economically immediately upon arrival. The Italians have 

Foreign Groups 99 

come largely from the provinces of Frosinone, Naples, Campobasso, and 
Palermo; only a few are natives of northern Italy. 

The Italians tend to settle solidly in particular sections of a new 
country or city, forming 'colonies.' Several such Italian districts are 
located in Providence and its vicinity on Federal Hill, around Charles 
Street and Hartford Avenue, and in Thornton and Manton. The Italians 
now living in Providence, 53,000 in number, would form a good-sized 
city. There are also large Italian groups in East Providence, Barrington, 
Bristol, Pontiac, and Westerly. 

Though most of these people are still classed as unskilled workers, an 
increase in the number engaged in skilled occupations is evident. The 
trades practiced by most Italians are barbering, tailoring, shopkeeping 
(especially in food and produce), shoe-repairing, music, and bricklaying. 
Providence has several jewelry factories, a large artificial-flower shop, 
two lumber companies, macaroni factories, and many soda-water and 
ice-cream plants, all established by Italians. The skilled or learned pro- 
fessions in which they are found include medicine, law, and dentistry. 

Many Italian sections of Rhode Island cities maintain an Old World 
atmosphere. In the Federal Hill section of Providence the shopkeepers 
fill their windows with piles of hard cheeses, fresh and dried sausages, 
bottles of olive oil, and small casks of almonds, dried cherries (used in 
making wine), and chestnuts, pistachios, and other nuts. 

The Italians have founded many societies for mutual help that is, 
for providing medical assistance and death benefits. The largest Italian 
organization, though it is not of the mutual aid type, is the Sons of Italy. 
This order, which is now established in half the States of the Union, was 
founded in New York in 1905; the Providence Lodge, No. 263, was 
organized in September, 1914. There are now some thirty-four other 
lodges in the State, including women's and junior organizations. The 
general purposes of the society are to promote a community sense, and 
to encourage attendance at school. There are about four thousand mem- 
bers in the State; foreign-born Italians must become naturalized to be 
eligible for membership. Perhaps three thousand Italians belong to the 
forty or more other societies and clubs. 

The early Italian organizations were provincial, limited to paesani or 
fellow townsmen, so that the societies of a generation ago reflected the 
older historic disunity of Italy. The home country's call to arms against 
Austria in 1915 fostered in America the urge to a more comprehensive 
brotherhood, hence the immediate and tremendous growth in Rhode 
Island, as elsewhere, of the Sons of Italy. 

ioo Rhode Island: The General Background 

The younger Italians have organized clubs for social or athletic pur- 
poses. Thus we have the Italo-American Club (first formed in 1896, but 
reorganized in 1924) in Providence; its headquarters at 256 Broadway 
are sumptuously furnished, and provided with a restaurant and rooms 
for cards and billiards. 

A particularly colorful custom which the Italians have brought to 
Rhode Island is the celebration of feast days, such as those of the Blessed 
Virgin and of the patron saints of various provinces and towns in Italy. 
The celebrations are partly religious and partly secular. There is usually 
a High Mass, followed by a procession, then dinner, and afternoon music. 

A typical Italian feast is that in honor of Santa Maria di Prata, which 
originated in the Italian town of Prata Sannita, in the province of 
Caserta. The festival begins with a High Mass at Saint Rocco's Church 
in Thornton, after which the priest delivers a sermon on the life of the 
saint, whose statue is believed by the devout to have saved many people 
from harm in a storm at Caserta in 1688. Following this is a parade. 
Young girls, dressed as angels, march from the church to the rear of the 
Thornton School, where a girl-angel is swung from the top of the school 
to place a crown on the head of the portable statue of the patron saint. 
Bombs are set off as the coronation takes place. After the coronation, 
the parade continues through the streets of Thornton, and flowers are 
dropped on the moving statue from an airplane. The customary evening 
attractions are band concerts and a display of fireworks, but the latter 
has recently been eliminated in conformance with city ordinances against 

Two New York daily papers in Italian have a circulation of some 
twenty-five hundred copies in Rhode Island; and a local Italian paper, 
the Echo, formerly a daily, but now a weekly, is published in Prov- 
idence. A large percentage of the Italians own their own homes, and 
their savings in local banks are estimated to be twenty million dollars. 

The French-Canadians, who make up nearly nineteen per cent of the 
State's foreign-born population, are somewhat more prone than other 
groups to resist assimilation or Americanization. Three factors seem to 
account for this situation: an active retention of the native language, 
settlement in compact communities and conscious maintenance of native 
cultural traditions, and the dominance of Canadian-trained priests in the 
churches and Canadian-trained sisters in the schools. 

The great exodus from Canada, though some immigrants had arrived 
much earlier, came during and after the Civil War, or between 1860 
and 1895. Industrial opportunities were the deciding factor. New mills 

Foreign Groups 101 

offered desirable employment to workers as skilled and industrious as 
the French-Canadians. Some American capitalists sent agents to Canada 
to stimulate the migration to this country, and for a time these agents 
were able to make it appear that Canada offered its people little chance of 
advancement, whereas the United States held out great promise of free- 
dom and adventure. Once here, the immigrants established a sort of 
new Canada, particularly in Woonsocket. French-Canadian character- 
istics began to manifest themselves and to bring forth remarkable re- 
sults. The skill, reliablity, and energy of the newcomers, and their will- 
ingness at first to work for low wages, fitted in perfectly with the aims 
of those who were promoting industrial expansion. Added to these 
qualities was often found a natural inventiveness, exemplified in the 
career of Aram J. Pothier, which aided factory improvements and be- 
came an essential element in the growth of local business. 

The casual visitor motoring through Woonsocket will perhaps note 
little to distinguish the city from the ordinary New England mill town. 
He will find the standard Main Street with its 'five and ten' stores; he 
will see dingy tenement houses and unprepossessing factory buildings. 
Yet behind these humdrum externals pulsates the spirit of the Franco- 
American. This element is not obvious upon cursory examination; one 
must linger and poke about before the full extent of French-Canadian 
predominance becomes evident. French- Canadians of culture repudiate 
the suggestion that 'Woonsocket French' is a local patois; but such it 
is an indiscriminate mixture of French and English. At baseball games 
it is not unusual to hear ' Attende un base on balls, Joe,' and 'Frappe un 
home-run,' or, at football, 'C'etait un bon tackle.' French-Canadian 
parents teach their young children French, on the theory that what they 
learn in childhood will not soon be forgotten and that they will quickly 
pick up English in school. The result is a lingual ambidexterity; whenever 
the proper English word does not come to mind, the best French equiva- 
lent is used, and vice versa. 

Woonsocket has its French-Canadian counterpart of Paul Bunyan in 
a traditional Hercules named Joe Montferrat, who could lift his plow from 
the furrow to point the location of an inn, and who, while trying to turn 
a handspring, struck his heels against the heavy oak beams of a taproom 
ceiling, leaving an imprint visible for more than a century. 

More than half the French- Canadian children in Woonsocket attend 
parochial schools. The little girls are dressed in uniforms, and almost 
any day in schooltime one may see young students marching along the 
sidewalk in orderly columns-of-two, marshaled by two or three nuns. 

IO2 Rhode Island : The General Background 

It may be thought that French-Canadian allegiance is directed to 
Canada, but this is not so. A festive party may sing 'O Canada' with 
great gusto, yet France is the object of their especial affection. It is the 
tricolor of France, not the Canadian flag, which is hung out on appro- 
priate occasions, and the term ' la belle Patrie ' refers not to the northland 
of their immediate derivation but to the European homeland, a country 
the majority of these Americans have never seen. 

Following their early success in industrial occupations, the French- 
Canadians began to drift away from purely wage-earning work. Lawyers 
and other professional men became numerous, social life expanded, and 
many clubs were founded. Politics claimed French-Canadian interest; 
and as a group, the former immigrants and their descendants became a 
powerful force in local partisan maneuverings. Two French-Canadians 
became Governors of the State Aram J. Pothier (1909-15, 1925-28), 
and Emery J. San Souci (1921-23); and two became Lieutenant-Govern- 
ors Adelard Archambault (1903-04), and Felix A. Toupin (1923-25). 
Others bought mills of their own, or established banks. 

The French-Canadians, although they still retain a moderate clan- 
nishness, have co-operated in Rhode Island's development. Intermarriage 
between different national groups of comparable social standing is fairly 
common; and since new immigration has virtually ceased, it is reasonable 
to suppose that the present French- Canadian population will gradually 
lose itself in a homogeneous American pattern. 

In considering the people designated as English, convenience demands 
that, instead of including only persons from England, the term should 
embrace the English-speaking group, from England, Ireland, and Canada 
(other than French). This composite group in 1930 made up thirty-five 
per cent of the foreign-born white stock of Rhode Island, being thus 
nearly as large as the combined Italian and French-Canadian groups. 
The English-speaking group has been rapidly assimilated into the com- 
munity, so that a short time after arrival there is little to distinguish its 
members from the older native stock. 

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the English made up ninety- 
seven per cent of the foreign-born population of Rhode Island, two-thirds 
of the number being recent Irish immigrants. English-speaking immi- 
grants, the Irish predominating, comprised a considerable proportion of 
the early industrial laboring class, whereas the Italians and French-Cana- 
dians are now more numerous in industry. The English immigrants, who 
settled originally around the mills in Pawtucket, Central Falls, and 
Esmond, brought with them their particular sports: English football 

Foreign Groups 103 

(Rugby) flourished until recently, cricket is occasionally played, and bowling 
on the green is still enjoyed in the northwest section of Providence and in 
Pawtucket. Social clubs and several societies, Scotch or Irish, hold meet- 
ings at least once a year at which their national sports are featured. The 
Highland Fling is not uncommon in these parts, and the British Empire 
Club is famous for its excellent speakers at dinners held several times a 
year. The Irish, as noted, were at first unskilled or mill workers; but 
later they gravitated to the law and politics. There are about eight 
hundred Welsh in the State. 

The Poles make up about five per cent of the foreign group. The 
majority of Polish immigrants have been of peasant stock. The influx 
began about fifty years ago, with the largest numbers coming between 
1895 and 1905. Olneyville, Randall Square, and North Main Street are 
Polish centers in Providence; large Polish colonies are found also in 
Central Falls, Pawtucket, Warren, Woonsocket, and in the towns of the 
Pawtuxet Valley. 

The textile and other mills seem to have attracted most of these people. 
Their boys formerly went to work in the mills as soon as they could 
legally leave school, but the depression has inclined them, with a large 
group of all nationalities including the native stock, to remain longer in 
the classroom. It has been remarked that the first generation of Poles 
in this country tends to keep much by itself, but that the second genera- 
tion rapidly absorbs the surrounding civilization. The Poles have brought 
from their home country a strenuous regard for several sports, particu- 
larly soccer and boxing, and, as one may readily see by scanning the 
names on college squads in the fall, they take to American football. 
The most active Polish-American Society in the State is probably that 
in Central Falls. All Poles are justly proud of the fact that two of their 
race, Kosciuszko and Pulaski, played a prominent part in the American 

The wafer (oplatki) custom prevails widely among the Poles. Shortly 
before Christmas the organists of parish churches distribute wafers re- 
sembling those used at Holy Mass. At the distribution the parishioners 
make small offerings for the organists and altar boys. The wafers are 
then sent to relatives and friends in Europe, while the Poles here receive 
during the same season the wafers sent from the home country. On 
Christmas Eve, when the families gather, they partake first of the wafers, 
in token of continued love, friendship, and good will to all men. 

The Portuguese have come to Rhode Island not only from the main- 
land of Europe, but also from the island groups of the Azores, Madeira, 

104 Rhode Island: The General Background 

and Cape Verde. From the last-named have come also people with a 
considerable admixture of African blood. From Brava, one of the small 
islands in this group, such part-Negro immigrants used to come to New 
England in the spring to work through the summer, and then return 
home. Other transients, some of whom remained in this country, came 
from other of the islands, but were called Bravas; so that the term has 
incorrectly been applied to Portuguese from the Azores or even from the 

Portuguese immigrants prior to 1917 were largely unskilled and un- 
educated. Those arriving since have been skilled and educated, and are 
industrious home-makers. A large number have come from the Azores, 
but all Portuguese territories are represented including Brazil, which 
was once a Portuguese colony and for a time was the seat of the Portu- 
guese Empire. In Rhode Island there are Portuguese groups in the Fox 
Point district of Providence, in East Providence, Newport, Tiverton, 
and Little Compton. On first arrival a majority were farmers, but they 
turned to industrial labor until they could save up money to buy farms 
or small businesses. At present the Portuguese may be found, as is the 
case with the Italians, in many trades, working as masons, machinists, 
carpenters, chefs, plumbers, and tailors. There are also many in pro- 
fessional life, as lawyers, dentists, and druggists. They have a great 
number of local societies and clubs. The Cape Verde Portuguese, most 
of them part Negro, have tended to become day laborers and long- 
shoremen, while the women work as cooks, housemaids, and hairdressers. 

The Swedes comprise about three per cent of the foreign-born white stock. 
Some came here early in the nineteenth century; many were skilled and 
well-educated. They settled in Auburn and Eden Park near Providence, 
and in scattered localities elsewhere. The men have become skilled 
mechanics and may be found in all trades. They own or manage ten 
jewelry factories, and several large grocery or food stores. Many of the 
girls are skilled housemaids or trained nurses. The fine Verdandi Male 
Chorus has been giving concerts in the cities of the eastern United States 
for more than 40 years. The Order of Vasa has several lodges in the 
State. In financial dependability, literacy, and percentage of naturaliza- 
tion, the Swedes rate exceptionally high. 

The Germans comprise about two per cent of the foreign-born white 
stock. A number served in the Civil War. In occupations and in adapt- 
ability to assimilation by American culture they are much like the Swedes. 

The Armenians, in numbers fewer than one per cent of the total foreign- 
born stock, came first about 1885, then in two waves during 1908-14 

Foreign Groups 105 

and 1920-23. Family life is still a potent unit in Armenian social rela- 
tions. Young Armenian couples seldom set up housekeeping by them- 
selves; they go to live with the parents of the bridegroom unless this 
arrangement is wholly impractical. 

The Greeks, also fewer than one per cent, came mostly after 1895. 
The majority are in Providence; they tend toward special occupations 
as cooks, waiters, confectioners, bakers, and restaurant keepers. 

The Lithuanians, fewer than one per cent, first came into the State 
about thirty years ago. They have a center in Olneyville, and are largely 
weavers, machine workers, and bakers. 

The Finns, two-tenths of one per cent, are mostly farmers in southern 
Rhode Island. 

The Syrians migrated here about 1902. Driven from their homes by 
Mohammedan oppression they fled to America, many coming to Provi- 
dence. They are famed as damask weavers, and the Blackstone Valley 
with its silk mills has been the chief center about which they have estab- 
lished themselves. Until recently it was the custom for a Syrian suitor 
to pay a handsome price to the father of his prospective bride. This was 
not an Old World custom, but had an economic basis in this country. 
So many of the first immigrants were bachelors that Syrian girls were at 
a premium. 'If you send to Damascus or Mosul for a bride,' it was 
said, 'it will cost a lot of money to bring her here, so it will be cheaper 
to pay a fair price right in this country.' The Syrians, coming from 
shepherd families, are still loyal to milk, butter, cheese, and lamb as 
staple foods, with Arabian coffee, served thick and strong in tiny cups, 
as a national drink comparable to the Englishman's tea. 

In the past twenty years the foreign-born element in Rhode Island 
has been declining in proportionate numbers, though the white stock of 
foreign parentage has remained nearly constant in its ratio to the total 
population. The Negro element has also been declining, until it is now 
only a little more than one per cent of the total. The prevailing decrease 
in foreign-born inhabitants is doubtless due in large part to present 
national immigration laws. 


RHODE ISLAND folklore and folkways are compounded of two princi- 
pal ingredients: old European traditions brought to America by immi- 
grants, early and late; and legends of the native Indians. The local 
adaptation of these ingredients has been influenced by several factors, 
some of which are intangible and must remain only speculative. Among 
them are the settlers' struggles with the sea and the rock-ridden land, 
religious beliefs which did not stop at accepting devils and witches at their 
most personal worst, a cunning appraisal of the less enlightened aspects of 
human nature, a blithe discount of any value placed on an individual's 
life, and the acceptance of bad luck as a matter of course. Many of the 
tales resulting from this adaptation are remarkable for their grimness 
and humor. 

Indian legends were current in the time of Roger Williams. It is told 
that Tashtasuck, the first sachem of the Narragansetts, was 'greater 
than anyone in the whole land in power and state.' He had only two 
children, a son and a daughter, and not being able to match them ac- 
cording to their dignity, he joined them together in matrimony. The 
eldest son of this union, Canonicus, became a great friend of Roger 
Williams, and assisted him in his dealings with the Narragansetts and 
other tribes. 

Another legend deals with the famous King Philip, the last of the 
Wampanoags. Being forced to retreat before the ever-advancing forces 
of the whites, he finally retired to his refuge at Mount Hope, resolved 
to die like a chief of royal blood, 'with his arms in his hands.' (This old 
phrase probably meant, 'with his arms folded across his breast.') His 
home was soon surrounded, and eventually the old warrior fell, shot 
through the heart by a renegade of his own race. 

There are many tales of the Devil's visits to Rhode Island, most of them 
told to the early white settlers by the Indians. The name Chepachet is 
Indian for 'devil's bag.' The Devil's footprints are supposed to be visible 
to the naked eye on rocks at Middletown and Wickford, and the Indian 
Drum Rock at Apponaug is marked by the Devil's heel. 

From Coventry comes the Legend of Carbuncle Pond. Years ago when 
that particular region was claimed by Narragansett and Mohegan alike, 

Folklore 107 

there lived on Carbuncle Hill a great snake. Its species was unknown, but 
its size was enormous and in the center of its head was a large gem a 
carbuncle deep red, glowing with the brilliancy and radiance of a great 
fire. Whenever it moved about at night, its coming was announced by 
the glow of the gem, and even by day its light could be seen in a crimson 
flood in the darkness of the woods. Efforts of the Indians to capture the 
snake were unsuccessful until, shortly before the coming of the first white 
men, a large party of Indians surprised the reptile, and after a terrific 
battle killed it and secured the carbuncle. Tradition relates that at the 
scene of the battle a large rock was cleft in twain by the snake's tail. 
The carbuncle served the Indian tribe as a talisman and warning of danger 
for many years. When the white men came and heard the story of this 
wonderful gem, they longed to possess it and arranged an expedition 
against the Indians for that purpose. They attempted a surprise attack, 
but their advance was announced by the increased glow of the stone, and 
the Indians were prepared. After a battle which decimated the Indians, 
the chief alone was left standing; but when the white men tried to take 
the carbuncle from him he drew back his arm and gave it a mighty throw. 
It landed with a great splash in the middle of the pond and was lost for- 

The ledge forming the Child-Crying Rocks, in Charlestown, is the 
source of an old legend of Indian cruelty to their newborn children who 
were judged too frail ever to become mature hunters, warriors, or burden- 
bearers. According to traditions carefully transmitted, the Indians, like 
the Spartans of old, destroyed these undesired infants by casting them 
down on these ragged rocks. This legend has been supported by the early 
white settlers, who often noticed that no malformed or imbecile adults 
were ever to be found among the various Indian tribes. 

White men's legends also abound throughout Rhode Island. One of 
the most interesting of these concerns the origin of the Old Stone Mill at 
Newport. It has been celebrated by Longfellow's 'Skeleton in Armor' 
and Fenimore Cooper's 'Red Rover.' A round stone tower supported by 
stone piers, it stands on a hill overlooking Narragansett Bay. That it was 
not built by the Indians is obvious to any who are acquainted with their 
customs. One supposition is that the structure is all that remains of 
a Norse church built by the Vikings about A.D. 1008. Another supposition 
is that the tower is the ruin of a windmill, built by Governor Arnold, an 
early executive of the Colony. There is little direct evidence to support 
this contention, but it is possible that the infant Colony, only forty years 
old when it is mentioned in the Governor's wiU, could have afforded such 

Io8 Rhode Island : The General Background 

a building. The orientation of the piers and windows, the use of geomet- 
rical forms, and finally the insignia of Freemasonry on a prominent 
stone set in the side of the mill have provided much material for re- 

Block Island, rising out of the ocean about nine miles off the southern 
shore of Rhode Island, is the scene of one of the most tragic legends. It 
tells the fate of the ship l Palatine ' and its marauded, starved passengers 
(see Tour S). 

Simple folk tales, handed down from generation to generation, are still 
popular, especially in the rural districts of Rhode Island. Most of them 
point a moral based on the benefits of goodness and love and the dire 
consequences of evil and hate. Others are of a humorous nature. From 
Cumberland comes a story explaining the old name of Dog Hill. It seems 
that a celebrated dog suit was once held there. A farmer owned a particu- 
larly vicious dog which snapped at every passer-by. He was such a nui- 
sance that a neighbor finally shot him, and a suit for damages was brought 
by the owner. A large crowd, all in favor of the defendant, gathered to 
witness the trial. The justice seemed to be of the same mind as his 
audience, for he ruled that the dog's skin should be stuffed and sold to 
the highest bidder, and the proceeds invested in rum for the whole party. 
As the stuffed dog was sold and resold innumerable times, the result was 
a hilarious party at which the plaintiff undoubtedly forgot his loss. 

The story of the ' Sea Bird ' is remarkable not only for its interest but 
its actuality. In Newport, at the eastern end of Easton's Beach, is a road 
leading to Purgatory and Second Beach. There, in the year 1750, some 
farmers and fishermen who inhabited a cluster of dwellings near the water 
observed, one morning, a vessel on the horizon. At first she did not attract 
any particular notice, for such a sight was not uncommon; but it was 
perceived, after a while, that the vessel was approaching the shore 
standing in, as it was termed with all her sails set and her colors flying. 
Such a spectacle was strange and startling, and the beach was soon alive 
with people who expected the ship to be caught in the breakers and 
dashed to pieces. Although not a soul was visible on her decks, she seemed 
to be guided by some mysterious power as she avoided the crags above 
and the ledges beneath the water. Approaching the beach, her keel 
struck the sands so gently that not the slightest injury was sustained. 

Wondering at this strange occurrence, the onlookers remained gazing 
at the stranded vessel, unable to believe their eyes. Presently they 
ventured on board, and the only living things they found were a dog, 
sitting quietly on the deck, and a cat in the cabin. Some coffee was boiling 

Folklore 109 

on the galley stove, and evident preparations had been made for tire 
breakfast of the crew, but not even the ghost of a mariner was there. 
There was neither evidence nor proof of what might have happened, but 
it is generally supposed that the crew, finding themselves unexpectedly 
near the breakers, abandoned the vessel in alarm (the longboat was miss- 
ing) and were afterwards lost. Later investigations brought to light the 
facts that the 'Sea Bird' was a brig belonging to Newport, under the com- 
mand of Captain John Huxham, and had been hourly expected from 
Honduras, having been spoken about a day or so before by a vessel that 
had arrived in port. No tidings were ever heard of the captain and crew. 
The vessel was afterwards floated and sold to a merchant of Newport, who 
changed her name to 'Beach Bird' and sailed her on many commissions. 

One of the few 'tall tales' to come out of New England has been re- 
counted by a Captain Munroe, of Newport. It seems that once he was on 
a whaling voyage. They sighted a stout whale and harpooned it, where- 
upon the whale gave a terrific yank and started to tow the ship in a circle. 
They got halfway around and saw to starboard what looked like another 
ship, but when they drew alongside they found out it was only their own 
ship's paint. 

Throughout the State many witch and ghost tales are still retold to the 
enjoyment of all listeners, young and old. A favorite tale is related of 
an old woman living in Exeter, who had long been thought to be a witch. 
One day as a farmer was driving a load of lumber along the road, a black 
cat jumped up on the reach pole. The oxen pulling the cart stopped and 
would move no farther. The farmer, unable to persuade the cat to get 
down from the pole, returned to his house and got his gun; but lacking 
bullets, he loaded it with a silver button. Returning to where his oxen 
and cart stood, he shot the cat. Some days later, the woman who was 
suspected of being a witch fell on a stump and broke her hip. A doctor 
was called, and in treating her injury found the silver button imbedded 
in her flesh. 

The Moaning Bones of Mount Tom is a favorite ghost tale in Arcadia. 
Many years ago a peddler, disposing of his wares, arrived at the foot of 
Mount Tom and knocked at the door of a lonely farmhouse. When the 
farmer opened the door, the peddler offered to sharpen all the knives in 
the household in return for his supper and night's lodging. After having 
supped with the farmer and his daughter, the peddler started to work on 
the knives, while the farmer sat watching him. The daughter retired 
upstairs to go to bed, but shortly after, hearing a commotion below, she 
dressed herself again, came downstairs, and found her father patting the 

no Rhode Island: The General Background 

hearthstones back into place. The room showed evidence of a fight and 
the peddler had disappeared, but his pack remained on the floor and a pile 
of silver lay on the table. The girl quickly understood and began to 
rummage through the pack in search of trinkets. Her father, fearing that 
she might give him away, burned out her tongue. The old farmer and his 
daughter later died, and the abandoned house fell into disrepair and finally 
caved in. Blackberry vines grew around the ruins in profusion and the 
children of the neighborhood came there to gather the fruit and play. 
One day while playing hide-and-seek about the old chimney, they heard 
moaning sounds that seemed to come from beneath the stones at the 
base of the chimney. Being frightened by these weird sounds, they fled 
home and notified their parents. A neighborhood group, armed with 
picks and shovels, accompanied the children to the ruins and, tearing up 
the old hearth, found the bones of the vanished peddler. 

In Kingston in 1894, a man was driving home from Peace Dale one 
foggy night. The mist was low-hanging and thick, but it hovered above 
the ground sufficiently for the road surface to be visible. He heard foot- 
steps and saw the legs of three men ahead and keeping an even pace with 
his progress. Reaching the point at which the roadway into the old Rod- 
man stone house leaves the highway, he turned up the lane. Just then 
the fog lifted and he saw, to his horror, that the three pairs of legs con- 
tinued to parade but there seemed to be no bodies above them. 

In Narragansett, on the old Indian trail, which is now a dirt road, is 
the cellar hole of a former house in which lived an old man and his son 
many years ago. The father had a reputation for being miserly and cruel 
and, according to local gossip, disciplined his son by beating him with an 
ax helve. After one such beating, he announced that his son had run away 
to sea, but his neighbors were inclined to believe that the boy had been 
beaten to death and his remains buried in the cellar. When the old man 
died, he had such an unsavory reputation that no one cared to volunteer 
to sit up with the body on the night before burial. Finally a grandfather 
of a family still resident in Kingston volunteered. He fell asleep in the 
next room but was soon awakened by the opening of the outer door, which 
unlatched itself and swung inward. He arose and closed the door, latching 
it carefully, but again the door opened. Angered by this occurrence, he 
whittled out a wooden plug and secured the latch with the plug, but he 
had hardly done so when the plug popped out and a heavy object was 
tossed into the room from the outer darkness. It was an ax helve, worn 
and smooth from use. He could discern no one outside, so shut and 
fastened the door once more, and it remained closed for the rest of the night. 



Rhode Island has many folkways and customs. Some of them date 
back to the earliest days of the Narragansett Colony, while others have 
been added through the years, especially by the foreign-born portion of 
its population, who still observe many customs of the land of their birth. 

Rhode Island celebrates its Independence Day on May 4, when cere- 
monies are held in the old State House on North Main Street in Provi- 
dence, and at other centers throughout the State. On Armistice Day in 
Wickford, flowers are thrown on the water in memory of those who died 
at sea. In June of each year, a spring festival of music is held at the Bene- 
dict Memorial to Music at Roger Williams Park in Providence, and many 
other similar events take place throughout the year. 

The National Algonquin Indian Council, a group of Indians whose 
forefathers came from all parts of the United States, have banded to- 
gether, and it is their custom to hold an annual Indian pow-wow on Labor 
Day, in the town of Johnston. The council generally has a very interest- 
ing program, to which the public is invited. The program consists of 
speeches, lighting of the council fire, smoking the pipe of peace, a peace- 
pipe dance by chiefs of various tribes, Indian songs and dances, archery 
contests, and an exhibition of an Indian courtship and marriage ceremony. 

The Portuguese hold a large celebration during the Feast of the Holy 
Ghost, which occurs in May or June and is an occasion for rejoicing and 
feasting. The ceremony is related to an ancient festival of the Queen's 
Birthday. The Queen, at her own celebration, is supposed to have invited 
all the poor to the feast, and to have donned an apron and waited upon 
them. When the poorest man was found, the Queen would bid the King 
rise and give the other his chair and his crown, thus establishing equality 
between the highest and the lowest. The Poles have their chief festivities 
during Easter Week, and the Negroes hold their Emancipation Day 
celebration on the first day of August. 

Conditions of life in Colonial Narragansett were widely different from 
those of other New England Colonies. The establishment of and adher- 
ence to the Church of England, and the prevalence of African slavery, 
evolved a social life resembling that of the Virginia plantations rather 
than of the Puritan farm. Narragansett was owned by a comparatively 
small number of persons, estates were large, and farms of five, six, and 
even ten square miles existed. Many of the well-to-do farmers had from 

112 Rhode Island: The General Background 

twenty-five to one hundred slaves and cultivated up to five thousand 
acres. It was customary to breed horses for racing, and many pacers 
were shipped to Cuba and sold for fancy prices to the wealthy owners of 
sugar plantations. 

Narragansett was a community of many superstitions, to which the folk 
customs of the feast days of the Anglican Church, the evil communica- 
tion of witch-seeking Puritan neighbors, the voodooism of the Negro 
slaves, the pow-wows of the native red men, all added a share. To be 
sure, the modern generation professes to ridicule old-time superstitions, 
but it is interesting to note that many survive and are recognized. Among 
the farmers it is still thought that the influence of the moon affects plant- 
ing, and the groundhog-shadow weather forecast is still adhered to and 
featured in our newspapers. A very old poem about the weather, of 
English origin, is still quoted in Rhode Island. It is entitled ' Candlemas 
Day' (which corresponds to our Ground Hog Day, February 2). 

As far as the sun shines in on Candlemas Day, 
So far will the snow blow in afore old May. 

Candlemas Day is come and gone, 
The snow won't lay on a hot stone. 

Candlemas Day the good housewife's goose lay; 
Valentine's Day, yours and mine may. 

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, 
Winter will have another flight; 
But if it be dark with clouds and rain, 
Winter is gone, and will not come again. 

On Candlemas Day if the thorns hang adrop, 
Then you are sure of a good pea crop. 

The West wind always brings wet weather, 
The East wind wet and cold together. 
The South wind surely brings us rain, 
The North wind blows it back again. 

If the sun in red should set, 
The next day surely will be wet; 
If the sun should set in gray, 
The next will be a rainy day. 

Few present-day hostesses would think of seating thirteen people at 
the same table, and it is still considered bad luck to spill salt at the table 


IN ADDITION to its public schools, Rhode Island/has one 
university, two general-curriculum colleges, and about a half- 
dozen preparatory schools of first rank. 

Rhode Island Hall is an early nineteenth-century building on 
the Brown University campus. 

The two views of Rhode Island State College at Kingston are 
typical of the whole campus. 

Providence College, a Dominican Catholic school, is the most 
recent (1917) of the State's institutions for higher learning. 

Moses Brown School, under Quaker auspices, was established 
at Providence in 1819; and St. George's School, which is usu- 
ally associated with Newport though it is in near-by Middle- 
town, was built on a charming seaside campus in the years 
following 1896. 









Folklore 113 

unless a pinch is thrown over the left shoulder. There are many who will 
not walk under ladders, open an umbrella overhead while indoors, or 
care to have a black cat cross their paths. At weddings, it is often the 
custom for the brides to wear ' something old, something blue, something 
borrowed, and something new'; and the wedding guests still scramble to 
catch the bride's bouquet and sleep with a piece of wedding cake under 
their pillows. In the old days, a child born with a caul was considered to 
have 'second sight,' and in the nineteenth century, cauls were preserved 
and given to sea captains to carry on their ships to assure a safe voyage. 
Today hospital authorities save the cauls and turn them over to the 
parents of the child, if requested. 

The feudal complex, so strong in the past, is still apparent in some parts 
of Rhode Island. Visitors to Block Island are impressed by the clannish 
spirit of the natives and their quick resentment of any attempt to en- 
croach upon what they consider their rights. Outside interference in local 
affairs or business competition is emphatically denounced. 

Old-fashioned social affairs are still in vogue both in the rural and 
metropolitan districts of the State. New Year's Eve Watch-Night services 
are held in many churches, and May breakfasts are served by many 
church groups. For many years oyster-opening contests have created 
interest in Warren and Wickford. While it is true that the rural husking 
bee is seldom heard of these days, quilting parties, harvest suppers, and 
pound parties are still popular. At pound parties, pound packages of 
food are auctioned off to the highest bidder and the proceeds used to aid 
the sick and distressed. This method of raising funds has been used during 
recent years to pay off farm mortgages. These affairs are usually con- 
ducted by the local Granges, which have been very active since the first 
Grange was organized at Kingston in 1886. Since that time the State 
Grange movement has grown rapidly until there are now forty organiza- 
tions throughout Rhode Island that act in co-operation with the farmer 
and give strong support to the State Board of Agriculture. 

The Rhode Island clambake is famous, and no visitor to the State 
should miss one. The Rhode Island clam has a shoft shell, and is quite 
different in shape and flavor from the hard-shelled bivalves known else- 
where as clams, but which are really quahaugs. A clambake prepared in 
the fashion taught to the early settlers by the Indians, especially if 
accompanied by Rhode Island clam chowder and johnnycake, provides 
a truly delicious repast. Rhode Island johnnycake is still made with white 
corn meal, slowly ground between millstones of Narragansett granite 
which is of a peculiarly fine grain. During the milling, the upper millstone 

H4 Rhode Island: The General Background 

is frequently raised or lowered, with a nice sense of adjustment, to insure 
the meal an even texture, and so prevent it from losing its life and sweet- 
ness. Large quantities of meal ground in this manner are still shipped 
all over the country. 

The original name of this famous food was 'journey-cake,' so called 
because of the facility with which it could be prepared while on long trips. 
The name was retained until the close of the War of Independence, about 
which time, 'in compliance with the prayers of memorials from the women 
of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the respective Legislatures of these 
commonwealths/ the term 'journey,' as applied to the favorite food of the 
gods and of the Yankee nation, was abrogated by sovereign authority, 
and that of ' johnny ' substituted in its place. This was done in honor of 
Governor Jonathan Trumbull, the honored and trusted friend of George 
Washington, who always addressed that sterling patriot with the affec- 
tionate name of Brother Jonathan. 

There are still descendants of a well-known Narragansett Indian, living 
in South County, who call themselves Noka, but the name was originally 
No-cake. This old Indian was very lazy, and when white folks went to 
him to obtain meal for johnny cake he would say in broken English, 
'No-ka,' and he became known as 'No-cake.' 

Many of the ballads sung at old-fashioned parties are still remembered. 
One was an old forecastle ballad of a very sentimental nature, probably 
written around 1840, and the author is unknown except for his initials, 
G. C. W. It is a sad tale of a sailor's sweetheart, swept out to sea in 
a small boat which capsized, and her body was borne to shore by the 
incoming tide. The plaintive chorus runs: 

Toll, toll the bell at early dawn of day, 
For lovely Nell, so quickly passed away. 

Toll, toll the bell a soft and mournful lay, 

For bright-eyed laughing little Nell of Narragansett Bay. 

Another popular ballad, 'Old Grimes,' was written by Albert Gorton 
Greene, founder of the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays, 
and first appeared in the Providence Gazette on January 1 6, 1822. It was 
about a wise and kindly old man who was affectionately known as 'Old 
Grimes,' for - 

He lived in peace with all mankind, 

In friendship he was true: 

His coat had pocket holes behind, 

His pantaloons were blue. 

Folklore' 115 

His knowledge, hid from public gaze, 
He did not bring to view ; 
Nor make a noise town-meeting days, 
As many people do. 

Thus, undisturbed by anxious cares, 
His peaceful moments ran; 
And everybody said he was 
A fine old gentleman. 

A very interesting and successful experiment was made during the fall 
of 1936 in the town of Little Compton by George Hibbett, of Columbia 
College English faculty, and the Little Compton Historical Society. The 
object of the experiment was to obtain phonographic records of the man- 
ner of speech, vernacular, and tales of the oldest residents of the town. 
With this end in view, a group of specially selected natives was invited 
to an old-fashioned 'story-swapping' party and encouraged to make 
themselves comfortable, exchange reminiscences, and renew old acquaint- 

Unknown to the guests, phonographic records were taken of everything 
said during the length of the party. Little Compton is situated near the 
State Line and is somewhat isolated; examination of the records after the 
party was over revealed that their speech was clipped and sharply stac- 
cato, with no trace of the northern New England drawl. The records will 
be preserved by the American Council of Learned Societies as part of its 
Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canada. 

Examples of the local vernacular were the use of 'stoop' for porch, 
'helpkeeper' for housekeeper, 'showa' for shore, 'hahly' for hardly, 
' krass-ligged ' for cross-legged, and ' lodge ' for large. 

Following are two of the stories told at the party: 

There was a woman who wouldn't ride in a buggy during a rain because 
she feared that it would sink into a rut and turn over. One night when it 
was raining hard she went to church with her husband. She held on to 
the rear of the buggy and walked through the mud. Her husband fell 
asleep and trusted the horse to take them home safely, but the horse got 
thirsty and turned off the road at his 'favorite water-hole. He walked 
right into the water and the woman followed the buggy in clear up to her 

When Ephraim Bailey's wedding day came round, it rained, and 
Ephraim didn't show up at the church. Some of his friends went looking 
for him and found him at home. They asked him why he defaulted his 
own wedding and he said, ' It rained so hard, I didn't think they'd hold it.' 


IN AUGUST, 1640, the town of Newport, then about a year old, granted 
Robert Lenthal four acres of land for a house lot, and set aside two 
hundred acres to support a school and to provide for his salary as school- 
master. Lenthal was a Church of England clergyman from Weymouth, 
Massachusetts, where he had encountered ' ecclesiastical trouble.' A 
contemporary reference to Lenthal's stay in Newport states that 'this 
gentleman did not tarry very long; I find him gone to England the next 
year but one.' Hence Rhode Island's first school was not a long-lived one. 
Before 1700, there are records of schools, or of lands allotted for the sup- 
port of schools, in Warwick, Barrington, Bristol, and Providence; the 
first known schoolmaster in the latter town, a William Turpin, was teach- 
ing in 1684. In 1698, Judge Samuel Sewell of Boston gave the income of 
some land in the Pettaquamscutt Purchase (see Tour 1) to Harvard Col- 
lege for 'procuring, settling, supporting, and maintaining a learned, sober 
and orthodox person from time to time, and at all times forever hereafter, 
to instruct the children and youths of the above mentioned . . . Petta- 
quamscutt ... as well English there settled, or to be settled, as Indians, 
the aboriginal natives and proprietors of the place, to read and write the 
English language and the rules of Grammar.' The school thus established 
was lodged for a time in a building on Tower Hill, South Kingstown. 
These early efforts on behalf of formal education were made in times 
troubled by Indian wars and boundary disputes, and were supported by 
a Colony population so small that it had scarcely exceeded seven thousand 
by 1708. 

By the middle of the eighteenth century, a number of so-called ' dame 
schools ' and private schools were flourishing in Newport and Providence. 
In addition to instruction in elementary subjects, such as reading and 
writing, contemporary newspapers advertised courses in French, music, 
and dancing. Providence gave permission to one George Taylor to keep 
school in a room in the Colony House in 1735, and about fifteen years 
later the town erected a regular schoolhouse on Meeting Street. A school 
for Negro children was endowed by a number of Anglican clergymen in 
London. This school, situated in Newport, had been in operation for some 
time when a Mrs. Mary Brett announced in the Mercury (1773) that it was 

Education 117 

'open to all societies in the town, to send their young blacks, to the num- 
ber of thirty.' In 1765, Thomas Ninigret, a Narragansett Indian, peti- 
tioned the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to found a school for 
the free education of the children of his tribe. 

An unsuccessful movement was made in 1768 to establish a public 
school system in Providence. It was at that time that 'Rev. James 
Manning did great things in the way of enlightening and informing the 
people. Schools revived by means of his advice and assistance. Previous 
to him it was not uncommon to meet with those who could not write their 
names.' In 1769, Rhode Island College, which had been founded at 
Warren in 1764 by the Reverend Mr. Manning (1738-91), simultaneously 
with a Latin school, held its first Commencement and graduated seven 
young men. For the Commencement exercises, Governor Wanton ordered 
such a large puffed wig that he could not keep his hat on it, and was 
obliged to carry the hat in his hand. Apparently the men appointed to 
preserve order during the college Commencements had some trouble with 
their tasks, for in 1790 a committee of the college corporation applied to 
the General Assembly ' to authorize and direct the Sheriff of Providence 
to attend on this corporation on Commencement days, in future, and by 
himself or deputies, to preserve the peace, good order, and decorum, on 
Commencement days, in, and about the Meeting house, in which the 
Public Commencement may be celebrated.' The corporation moved at 
the same time ' that it be recommended to the Baptist Society, in future, 
to take effectual measures to prevent the erection of Booths, or receptacles 
for liquors, or other things for sale, and other disorderly practices on the 
Baptist Mee ting-House lot, on Commencement days.' The sheriff still 
marches at the head of Brown University's Commencement processions. 

The college and the Latin school, which remained closely associated 
until 1896 when the latter was consolidated with an English and Classical 
School and called the University School, moved in 1770 to Providence. 
The Reverend Morgan Edwards (1722-95), who had been on a trip to 
England to raise money for the college, reported the remarkable contest 
that decided its permanent location: 'Some who were unwilling it should 
be there in Warren and some who were unwilling it should be anywhere, 
did so far agree as to lay aside the said location and propose that the 
county which should raise the most money should have the college.' 
Providence surpassed ks closest competitor, Newport, by 280 in lawful 
money. In 1804, in recognition of the munificent support of Nicholas 
Brown, the college was named Brown University. 

The Revolution disturbed the routine of education in Rhode Island, as 

1 1 8 Rhode Island : The General Background 

elsewhere. Newport's schoolhouse was burned by the British, and in 
Providence the Meeting Street schoolhouse was turned into a laboratory 
for the manufacture of explosives. Also in the latter city, Whipple Hall, 
which contained a graded school, became a powder magazine and meeting- 
place for patriot committees, and University Hall, which had been built 
1770-72, was used as a barracks. The college remained closed during 
most of the period of hostilities. 

One of the first Sunday schools in America was fostered by Samuel 
Slater of Pawtucket. In 1796-97, he provided a teacher to give secular 
instruction on Sundays to children who worked in the textile mills during 
the week. Originally the school was conducted along lines similar to the 
schools founded by Robert Raikes in England in 1781, but in 1805, David 
Benedict, a Brown University student and a licensed Baptist preacher, 
took charge. He introduced Bible reading and religious instruction, and 
hence transformed the institution into what would today be called a 
Sunday school. 

The school conducted in the Potter House at Newport, 1814-32, owed 
its origin to Simeon Potter, who wrote from Swansea, Massachusetts, 
in 1795, to the trustees of a lottery: 'Gentlemen: I saw in the Boston 
Centinel, a scheme of a lottery, for the laudable intention of rebuilding 
the Long Wharf in Newport, the building a hotel, and more especially 
establishing a free school, which has determined me to make a free gift of 
my estate on the point called Eas ton's Point ... if you will accept of it in 
trust to support a free school forever, for the advantage of the poor chil- 
dren of every denomination.' 

In 1800, the first free public school law of State-wide scope was passed. 
It provided for teachers and a school in each town. A petition for this 
bill had been submitted to the General Assembly during the preceding 
year by the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers, at 
the urging of one of its distinguished members, John Howland, who not 
only wrote the petition but was largely influential in interesting members 
of the General Assembly in public education. He was a barber by profes- 
sion, and a Revolutionary War veteran who had fought under Washing- 
ton at Trenton. The law of 1800 was repealed three years later, but 
Providence continued to build a public school system. 

In 1802, Kent Academy, since renamed East Greenwich Academy, was 
founded by prominent citizens of the town. At present a private co- 
educational institution, it is supervised by the Providence Conference of 
the Methodist Church. It has maintained a reputation for excellent 
preparatory training. Washington Academy in North Kingstown was 

Education 119 

founded two years before Kent; but after a period of success, it lost its 
charter, land, and buildings in 1848. 

In 1819, the Moses Brown School opened in Providence on its present 
site, which was part of a farm donated by Moses Brown to the school. 
The original Quaker School, of which Moses Brown School is the successor, 
was opened in Portsmouth in 1784; but because of the post-Revolutionary 
depression, paper currency inflation, and other troubles, this Portsmouth 
school closed in 1788. Until after the Civil War, the Moses Brown School 
was strictly administered according to austere Quaker traditions; boys 
and girls were kept apart, and there was little social intercourse. Later 
in the century, the school became more liberal in its extra-curricular 
activities. It is at present a successful preparatory school for boys, with 
both day pupils and boarding students. 

In addition to the public school system and Brown University, Provi- 
dence could claim in 1828 six academies and more than eighty small 
private schools. At that time there were one hundred and ninety-three 
schoolhouses in the State, each town having at least one. In the same 
year an awakened interest in education caused the General Assembly to 
pass a number of new education laws, the most important feature of 
which was a provision for distributing State financial assistance to local 
schools. Soon after 1828, the number of schoolhouses doubled and the 
number of public school pupils in attendance increased tenfold. 

Between 1760 and 1830, public education largely depended for support 
on the proceeds of lotteries, of which at least eighty were held in this 
period. There were other sources of income, but the need for security was 
recognized by law when a permanent school fund of $5000 was set up in 
1828. In 1836, this fund was increased by the State's share in the distribu- 
tion of the surplus (Federal) revenue; this share amounted to $328,335.30, 
and was deposited in local banks at five per cent interest. The General 
Assembly ordered that the annual income from the deposits be paid to 
the towns, for support of the public schools. In 1845, the State increased 
its annual appropriation for schools to $25,000, and since that time it has 
periodically increased this sum. 

The slow process of physical improvement in schoolhouses, of increas- 
ing the number of graded schools, and of reorganizing and centralizing the 
control of the educational system, was paralleled by increased attendance 
during the early nineteenth century. Provision was made for annual 
compiliations of school statistics, and in 1842 a law was passed requiring 
teachers to be examined on their qualifications for the task. 

In 1842, Wilkins Updike of South Kingstown supported a bill providing 

I2O Rhode Island: The General Background 

for a State-wide survey of the public schools. Henry Barnard of Connecti- 
cut, one of the leading educators of the nineteenth century, was chosen to 
make this survey. Barnard's work in 1843-44 resulted in the considera- 
tion of plans for further improvement. Barnard had considerable success 
in combating the popular conception that education was not a civil or 
governmental concern but a private one. The Barnard school law of 1845 
marked the beginning of Rhode Island's present public school system. 
It provided for the organization of the town schools into a semi-State 
system. At the head stood the Commissioner of Public Schools, who was 
appointed by the Governor. He was empowered to apportion the annual 
State appropriations, to adjust and decide disputes arising from the school 
laws, and to supervise generally such matters as the selection of texts, 
books for school libraries, and the conduct of teachers' institutes. The 
school committees of the various townships were to apportion the State 
money among the town districts, to report to the Commissioner, and to 
supervise the town schools and teachers. Thus the Barnard law denned 
the method of school support; it obliged the towns to educate the 
children, and helped them to do so; it set the minimum school 'year' at 
four months, and restricted classes to a maximum of fifty pupils to one 
teacher. It also provided for the certification of teachers in subjects they 
were qualified to teach; these certificates were good throughout the State. 
Henry Barnard remained in Rhode Island only long enough to see the 
early functioning of l one of the best systems of public instruction in the 
world,' as Horace Mann declared in 1845. Barnard was also influential 
in establishing teachers' institutes, high schools, and school libraries. 
His great interest in school architecture, in lighting, heating, ventilating, 
and furnishing schools, was shown in the hundreds of pages devoted to 
those matters in his reports. Poor health caused the retirement, in 1849, 
of this great educator. 

The Rhode Island Institute of Instruction was formed at Henry 
Barnard's suggestion, for the purpose of keeping alive a public interest in 
education. From its first meeting in 1844 it has been influential in ' teach- 
ing how to teach.' In 1850, Brown University established a Didactic 
Department to function as a normal school; and two years later a separate 
normal school was founded in Providence. At first this latter was a private 
enterprise, but in 1854 it became a State institution. The Institute for 
Instruction was influential in introducing music into the schools, in the 
opening of evening schools for the benefit of the working population, and 
in the founding of public libraries. 

During the nineteenth century, Rhode Island shared with other parts 

Education 121 

of New England an unprecedented interest in adult education. Ralph 
Waldo Emerson delivered a public lecture before the Franklin Lyceum in 
1838. During the i86o's and 1870*5 the Lyceum was a particularly im- 
portant educational influence in Providence. After a series of meetings, 
seldom interrupted after 1831, the Franklin Lyceum convened for the 
last time in January, 1906. 

In 1839, the Rhode Island Association of Free Baptists founded Smith- 
field Seminary, in North Scituate, for the liberal education of the youth 
of both sexes. The school received financial aid from the Hon. Benedict 
Lapham and others in 1863, and was renamed the Lapham Institute. 
The Smithfield Seminary should not be confused with the Smithfield 
Academy that operated from 1811 to 1853 in Union Village. The science 
courses taught at Smithfield Academy gave that institution a reputation 
as one of New England's foremost schools. 

In the 1 840*5, several important innovations in Rhode Island educa- 
tional practice were made. Funds were set aside for educating the blind, 
the deaf, and the feeble-minded. A Catholic school was opened in the 
basement of the church of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. The first 
separate building housing a Catholic school was opened in 1855, as a boys' 
academy on Lime Street in Providence. The first child labor law, pro- 
hibiting children under twelve from working in mills, was passed. Science 
and nature study were recognized as school activities in all grades. Albert 
G. Scholfield founded Scholfield's Commercial College, to teach writing and 
bookkeeping; its enrollment in the first year increased from five to about 
five hundred. The first evening school (1840) was followed by the found- 
ing of two more at the end of the decade, and by 1873 rnore than sixty 
were operating. 

During the 1850*5, the question of the connection between religion and 
public education threatened to become acute. Commissioner Elisha 
R. Potter repressed the agitation and, with the support of the Rhode 
Island Institute of Instruction, succeeded in averting a conflict. In his 
School Report for October, 1854, Judge Potter stated: ' But if anyone does 
object, the majority can still use it [the Bible] in a class by themselves, 
leaving the objector out of the class; and he has then no more right to 
object to their reading it, than he has to their using any other book, which 
he does not wish, or is not required to use himself.' The Institute of 
Instruction urged the creation of the State Board of Education which, 
after its founding in 1870, has contributed to the separation of education 
from politics and sectarian prejudices. The Board consisted of eight men 
the Governor, the Lieutenant-Governor, and six others elected by the 

122 Rhode Island: The General Background 

General Assembly. Its primary duties were the general supervision of 
public, high, and normal schools. The Commissioner of public schools, 
who still dispensed the State school money and held judicial powers over 
school controversies, later came to be elected by the Board of Education, 
and to make his reports to the Board instead of to the legislature. 

By 1870, there were six public high schools in Rhode Island. State aid 
was extended to the teachers' institutes, evening schools, and public 
libraries. After 1883, a truancy law made parents responsible for sending 
their children to school. In 1877, the Rhode Island Institute for the Deaf 
was opened with five pupils, whose parents had petitioned the General 
Assembly to aid their education. The Institute was reorganized in 1892, 
and housed in a new building on Hope Street, Providence. In 1878, the 
Rhode Island School of Design was opened; at the present time it offers 
specialized training in the fine arts, crafts, design, and related fields. 
Diplomas are granted for work done in nine separate departments. The 
School of Design became a State beneficiary, partly through the founding 
of scholarships, in 1882-83. La Salle Academy was founded in Providence 
for the education of Catholic boys in 1871, and by 1880 the education of 
about one-sixth of the school children in Rhode Island was in the care of 
the parochial schools. The Sockanosset School for Boys, opened in 1850 
in connection with the Providence Reform School, was moved to Howard 
in 1882. Both the Sockanosset School and the corresponding Oaklawn 
School for Girls seek to educate, instruct in trades, and reclaim juvenile 
offenders. In 1885, the State Home and School was opened, on Smith 
Street in Providence, for the care and education of indigent children. 
During the i88o's, kindergartens were introduced into the educational 
system. Two important girls' private schools were also founded in Provi- 
dence the Lincoln School (1884) and the Mary C. Wheeler School 
(1889). The Lincoln School is now the girls' section of the Moses Brown 
School; it has been under the control of the Yearly Meeting of Friends for 
New England since 1925. 

In 1887, a State agricultural school and experiment station was opened 
in Kingston^ It was chartered as the Rhode Island College of Agriculture 
and Mechanic Arts in 1892, in order to use Rhode Island's share of the 
funds released by the United States Government under the Morrill Act of 
1862. Brown University had originally accepted the grant, but bad re- 
linquished it. In 1909, the new institution was renamed Rhode Island 
State College. Several times since its founding, the college has revised its 
curriculum and enlarged its facilities. It carries on a great deal of ex- 
perimental work, much of which is closely related to the State's agricul- 

Education 123 

tural problems. A State-wide extension service carries the results of its 
work to the general public. 

The decade of the iSpo's was notable in Rhode Island education for 
several additions to educational facilities, beside the chartering of State 
College. The Women's College in Brown University was opened in 1892; 
after rapid growth it was renamed, in 1928, Pembroke College in Brown 
University. St. Andrew's Industrial School, which originated in the labors 
of the Reverend William M. Chapin, Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church 
in Barrington, was opened in Barrington in 1893. In 1896, St. George's 
School was founded in Middletown by the Reverend John Diman. In 
1898, the Rhode Island Textile School, the third of its kind in the United 
States, was established along the lines of the textile schools then operating 
in Philadelphia and Lowell. In 1895, a plan for co-operation between 
Brown University and the city of Providence, making possible further 
training for school teachers, was adopted. At present the State offers 
a number of scholarships for courses in education, and in some graduate 
studies, at the University. 

The laws of 1894, 1905, and 1906 providing for inspection of factories 
and limiting the age of the workers were closely related to the problem of 
truancy and to increasing the number of school children in attendance. 
An act of 1898 provided for the consolidation of small ungraded schools. 
Before the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, all school 
districts had been abolished, provision for high school instruction was 
made obligatory on the towns, pensions for teachers more than 60 years 
of age were granted by the State, and a minimum salary law for teachers 
had been passed. In 1935, the Board and the Commissioner of Education 
were replaced by a Department under a Director. 

Providence, it has been claimed, was the first city to offer special 
educational facilities for tubercular children. A fresh air school was 
opened in January, 1908, in the Meeting Street schoolhouse. The Exeter 
School, for persons of idiot and imbecile mentalities, was opened in 1907 
at Exeter. In the following year, the Board of Education first provided 
for the education of the adult blind in their homes. The Rhode Island 
College of Pharmacy and Allied Sciences was chartered by the legislature 
in 1902; it has since become a member of the American Association of 
Colleges of Pharmacy. 

Provisions for the health and safety of Rhode Island school children 
were increased in number early in the i9oo's. Fire drills, building inspec- 
tion, sight and hearing tests, physical training, and medical and dental 
examinations were arranged for by the State. Patriotic instruction and 

124 Rhode Island: The General Background 

vocational guidance were introduced. 'The broad aim and recognized 
function of public school education,' said the School Commissioner in 
1910, 'has been a preparation for intelligent citizenship, such education 
being supported by government as the safeguard of civil rights and 
political institutions.' 

Providence College was founded in 1917, and was opened in 1919 upon 
the completion of its first building, Bishop Harkins's Hall. The faculty of 
the college is composed largely of professors who are members of the 
Dominican Order of Preachers. 

Recent educational developments in Rhode Island have been for the 
most part along the general pattern already established. In 1920, an act 
of the General Assembly provided for the founding of the Rhode Island 
College of Education, to succeed the Rhode Island Normal School. This 
college, with more than two thousand students in attendance at present, 
also develops and tests methods of teaching in the Henry Barnard School, 
a sort of 'educational laboratory.' Rhode Island is probably the only 
State which selects from every town and city candidates for special 
training to meet the peculiar needs of their communities. 

The buildings of the old Lapham Institute were taken, in 1923, by the 
Watchman Industrial School and Camp, which trains Negro boys and 
girls for industrial life. The Academy of Mount Saint Charles (founded 
1928), on Bernon Heights overlooking Woonsocket, is a boarding school 
conducted by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and attended by more than 
300 boys. Bryant College, founded at Providence in 1863 by H. B. Bryant 
and H. D. Stratton, was joined with the Rhode Island Commercial School 
in 1915 as the Bryant and Stratton Business School. The Strayer Act of 
1926 provided for the erection of junior high schools in cities and towns 
throughout the State. Thus has Rhode Island continued to increase its 
educational facilities, to accommodate a growing number of pupils and 
to meet special problems. 


THE Rhode Island Charter of 1663, procured by Doctor John Clarke, 
proclaimed in inspiring words the ambition of Roger Williams 'to hold 
forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and 
best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments.' In the 
religious history of the United States, this noble r61e has been consistently 
upheld by the State which Williams founded. The success of the experi- 
ment an experiment with but one rival, Maryland, in seventeenth- 
century America became evident at an early date. In the compact of 
1637, the inhabitants of Providence agreed to be bound by government 
'only in civil things,' and about three years later a similar agreement 
was entered into at Newport. Although between 1664 and 1783 Roman 
Catholics, then few in number, were denied the right to vote, it may be 
said that Rhode Island achieved and has maintained the separation of 
Church and State. 

The earliest settlers of Providence were Separatists, those who had 
separated themselves from the Anglican Church of England, and they 
were religiously minded men. The first written evidence of organized 
worship in Rhode Island is contained in the entry in Winthrop's ' Journal ' 
for March 16, 1639, which tells of a baptismal ceremony. Ezekiel Holy- 
man first immersed Roger Williams, and was in turn baptized by Wil- 
liams. After three or four months, however, Williams left the society, 
because he felt 'that their baptism could not be right since it was not 
administered by an apostle.' He became a 'Seeker,' accepting no organ- 
ized body of doctrine, and remained one to his death in 1683. 

In the spring of 1639, therefore, the first Baptist Church in America 
was established in Providence by Anabaptist dissenters from the Puritan 
Church of Massachusetts. They had no house of worship until 1700, when 
their minister, the Reverend Pardon Tillinghast, at his own expense built 
a meeting-house ' in the shape of a haycap, with a fireplace in the middle, 
the smoke escaping from a hole in the roof.' Five of the seven Baptist 
Churches in the Colonies during the seventeenth century were in Rhode 
Island. During the next century, the sect made significant progress, as 
marked by two notable events the founding of a college and the build- 
ing of a new church. The college was founded at Warren in 1764; it was 

126 Rhode Island: The General Background 

moved to Providence in 1770; and there, 34 years later, its name was 
changed from Rhode Island College to Brown University. The church 
was the present First Baptist Church of Providence, dedicated in May, 
1775. The inscription on its bell reads: 

For freedom of conscience the town was first planted, 
Persuasion not force was used by the people; 
This church is the oldest and has not recanted, 
Enjoying and granting, bell, temple, and steeple. 

Baptist encouragement of freedom of thought and conscience led 
eventually to doctrinal disputes that were settled only by the founding of 
separate bodies, such as the Six Principle Baptists, the Seventh Day 
Baptists, and the Free Will Baptists. The hardy and independent spirit 
which kept the newly founded Baptist Church together for its first sixty 
years, with no meeting place except under a tree or in a member's home, 
has continued to have a broad and spreading influence. The membership 
of the Baptist Church in Rhode Island was five thousand in 1813, more 
than twelve thousand in 1890, and more than twenty thousand in 1930. 

The Congregationalists who were among the early settlers of Rhode 
Island had to cross the Seekonk River to worship in their own churches in 
the Massachusetts towns of Rehoboth, Barrington, and Bristol. The 
latter two towns became part of Rhode Island in 1746-47. The Newman 
Congregational Church, now in Rumford, was founded in 1643 by the 
man whose name it bears. The Puritan congregation in Barrington be- 
came established between 1650 and 1660. Because of the separation of 
Church from State, the Congregationalists secured no such dominance 
for themselves as they held in Massachusetts or Connecticut. Congrega- 
tional churches were established in Providence and Newport about 1720, 
and the first church building of this denomination in Providence was 
erected on a portion of the orchard of Chad Brown in 1723. During the 
Revolutionary period, Congregationalism suffered a temporary decline, 
as did many other religious sects in those years of stress; but the middle 
and later half of the nineteenth century saw a conspicuous revival in 
strength and numbers. In 1833 there were about seventeen hundred 
Congregationalists in Rhode Island, and in 1869 more than four thousand. 
In 1935 there were more than eleven thousand members in about thirty- 
eight churches throughout the State. 

Several months before Roger Williams arrived on the site of Providence, 
the Reverend William Blackstone, an ordained Anglican clergyman, 
settled at ' Study Hill,' in what is now the village of Lonsdale. Although 

Religion 127 

somewhat of a hermit in his personal habits, Blackstone preached in 
Providence many times, and undoubtedly conducted services while 
visiting Richard Smith's home in Wickford. The Church of England was 
established on a permanent basis in Newport about 1700. The first 
Trinity Church was built in the city in 1704, and the present edifice was 
erected in 1725. It is said that Saint Paul's Church, built in 1707 in 
Kingston and moved in 1800 to Wickford, is the oldest Episcopal 
church north of the Potomac. The Reverend James MacSparran came 
to this parish hi 1721, and within three years increased his congregation 
from the seven persons who attended his first Holy Communion to more 
than three hundred. Saint Michael's Church in Bristol was built in 1719; 
and a year later, King's Chapel, renamed Saint John's in 1810 on the 
erection of a new edifice, was established in Providence. All four of these 
early Episcopal Churches in Rhode Island were nourished, and all except 
Trinity Church were founded, by the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel in Foreign Parts, organized in London in 1701. The independence 
of the American Episcopal Church followed the declaration of national 
independence, but the end of the Revolution found the Episcopal Church 
in a very depressed condition in Rhode Island. Some of the churches 
were closed, and Saint Michael's at Bristol had been burned. The nine- 
teenth century, particularly its last half, saw a remarkable recovery, 
however. In 1829 there were fewer than six hundred Episcopal com- 
municants in Rhode Island; whereas in 1900 there were more than twelve 
thousand, and in 1930 there were about twenty- three thousand members 
in the State. 

Early in 1657, a number of Friends, or Quakers, seeking refuge from 
persecution in Massachusetts and Connecticut, settled in Rhode Island, 
particularly on the Island of Aquidneck. From this sect came a number of 
distinguished officials: William Coddington, Judge and Governor (1640- 
47), Nicholas Easton, Governor (1672-74), and Nathanael Greene, the 
Revolutionary general. In 1672 George Fox himself visited Rhode Island, 
and occasioned the writing of the pamphlet in which Roger Williams 
attempted to convince the Friends that their religious principles were 
erroneous. The pamphlet is elaborately entitled: 

George Fox digged out of his Burrowes, or an offer of disputation on 
fourteen proposals made this last summer, 1672 (so called) unto G. Fox 
then present on Rhode Island in New England by R. W. As also how 
(G. Fox slily departing) the disputation went on, being managed three 
days at Newport on Rhode Island and one day at Providence, between 
John Stubs, John Burnet and William Edmundson on the one part, and 

128 Rhode Island: The General Background 

R. W. on the other. In which many quotations out of G. Fox and Ed. 
Burrowes Book in folio are alleged, with an appendix of some scores of 
G. F., his simple lame answers to his opposites in that book, quoted and 
replied to by R. W. of Providence in N.E. 

The first steps to establish a Friends school were taken as early as 
1779, and in 1784 a school was opened in one of the rooms of the Friends 
Meeting-House in Portsmouth. The institution was closed after four 
years, however, and its funds were left to the astute care of Moses Brown 
who, thirty-one years later, donated the land on which Moses Brown 
School in Providence now stands. Only toward the end of the nineteenth 
century was any color, painting, or music allowed in the school. About 
1840, there were some thirteen hundred Quakers in Rhode Island, but in 
1900 there were fewer than one thousand. Evidently the number had 
started to decline by 1842, when the American edition of the Dublin 
University Magazine for December stated : ' Rhode Island had been urged 
by the other States to co-operate with them in expelling Quakerism. 
They declined on the following grounds: The Quakers were a people 
that delighted to encounter persecution, and quickly sickened of a patient 
audience; and had already begun to loathe Rhode Island as a place where 
their talent for patient suffering was completely buried.' 

In 1658 about fifteen Sephardic Jewish families arrived in Newport from 
Holland. Among them were Mordecai Campanal and Moses Pacheckoe, 
who are said to have brought with them the first three degrees of Free- 
masonry and to have organized the first Masonic Lodge in America. They 
immediately formed the congregation of Jeshuath Israel (Salvation of 
Israel). Not until a century later, however, did this congregation have 
a resident rabbi Isaac Touro of Jamaica, later a close friend of Doctor 
Ezra Stiles. Its synagogue, the second to be built in America, was dedi- 
cated in 1763. Still standing on Touro Street, Newport, it is now the 
oldest in the country. During the Revolution, the Jewish community 
dwindled, and by 1818 there remained in Newport but three of the former 
sixty or more families. The synagogue was closed until 1883, when Doc- 
tor Abraham Mendes arrived as a new leader. About a century ago, with 
the industrial expansion of Rhode Island and the consequent rise in 
population, the Jews increased in number until at present they total more 
than twenty-five thousand, about twenty-two thousand of whom reside 
in Providence. 

The earliest recorded Mass for Roman Catholics in Rhode Island was 
celebrated in Newport's old State House for members of the French fleet, 
by French chaplains during the Revolution. In 1793 a number of Roman 

Religion 129 

Catholic refugees arrived from the French colonies of Santo Domingo and 
Guadeloupe; and after the Emmet Revolution of 1798, many Irish Cath- 
olics immigrated to Rhode Island. In 1811 Bishop Cheverus and the 
Reverend Doctor Matignon came to the small French Catholic com- 
munity in Bristol to celebrate Mass and baptize children. After the 
United States Government began to rebuild the works of Fort Adams in 
1825, there was quite an influx of Roman Catholics into Newport, and in 
1828 a schoolhouse was purchased and remodeled into the first Catholic 
church in Rhode Island. The Newport parish was the earliest regular 
congregation, and its church, Saint Joseph's, was completed by 1836. 
The Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence was completed the 
following year. Between 1850 and 1860 there was a remarkable growth 
in the number of Roman Catholics, and today there are more than 350,000 
members of this denomination in Rhode Island. 

In September, 1789, Jesse Lee, a Methodist itinerant minister, arrived 
in Charlestown and spoke in Mr. Stan ton's coffee house; this is believed 
to have been the first Methodist sermon in Rhode Island. In 1792 the 
Methodist Church in Bristol had a regular minister, the Reverend Lemuel 
Smith, who held services in the Court House until the erection of a church 
in 1805. The Methodist Church in Warren was established about the 
same time as that in Bristol, but Lee dedicated the church edifice in 
Warren on September 24, 1794. Shortly before the opening of the nine- 
teenth century, there were about one hundred and sixty members of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church in the Providence district, which included 
some parishioners living in Massachusetts. Kent Academy, founded in 
1802, was purchased by the Providence Conference of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church in 1841, and has since continued under the Confer- 
ence's management as East Greenwich Academy. Between 1851 and 
1936, the number of Methodists in Rhode Island has increased from three 
thousand to more than nineteen thousand members. 

There are about four thousand Swedish Lutherans in Rhode Island, and 
more than two thousand others divided among a variety of smaller 
Lutheran groups. There are about fifteen hundred Presbyterians and 
about fourteen hundred Universalists in the State. Among the religious 
groups with fewer than one thousand members are the Unitarians, the 
Christian Scientists, the Primitive and the African Methodists, and the 
Seventh-Day Adventists. 


Fishing. Rhode Island has 246 miles of coastline, including Narragansett 
Bay which extends twenty-eight miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. 
The comparative proximity of all parts of the State to salt water makes 
for unexcelled fishing opportunities. Four of the seven cities in Rhode 
Island have water frontage on Narragansett Bay. These cities are Prov- 
idence, Newport, Cranston, and Warwick. Newport is also skirted on 
the south by the Atlantic Ocean. There is daily boat service, in sum- 
mer, between Providence, Newport, and Block Island. The latter lies in 
the Atlantic, about ten miles south of the mainland and more than 
twenty miles from Newport. Charter craft may be hired for any desired 
length of time in Providence, Pawtuxet, Riverside, Warwick, East Green- 
wich, Warren, Bristol, Wickford, Point Judith, Newport, and Block 
Island. Such boats are usually listed with the nearest Chamber of Com- 
merce. Dories, skiffs, and rowboats may be rented from individual owners 
by the hour, day, week, or season, by those who prefer fishing in the more 
sheltered waters. The lack of a boat, however, need not preclude anyone 
from the pleasure of the sport. Numerous vantage-points are to be 
found where one may drop a line from the shore. The rocks at Beaver 
Tail in Jamestown and the breakwater at Point Judith are two of the 
best places for such fishing. The variety of fish thus caught, however, 
is small; tautog and a few flatfish generally form the day's catch. Deep- 
sea fish sought in near-by waters include swordfish, tuna, bluefish, cod, 
and haddock; while tautog, hornpout, small bluefish, flatfish, eels, sea 
and rock bass, with other lesser fish, are caught farther upstream. 

Narragansett Bay and its many tributaries offer the opportunity to 
procure all sorts of shellfish. Lobster, crabs, oysters, scallops, clams, 
and quahaugs are found in great quantities, and their fine flavor has been 
widely heralded. The taking of shellfish is regulated by the Division 
of Fish and Game to prevent a possible overdrain on the supply and to 
protect the public from the danger of stock found in polluted waters. 

Fresh-water fishing is encouraged by the Division of Fish and Game, 
and the accessibility of most of the stocked ponds and streams makes 

Sports, Recreation, and Conservation 131 

the sport popular. Trout, pickerel, bass, and striped and white perch 
provide sport in the catching. Some of the ponds frequented by fisher- 
men are Beach Pond, Exeter; Waterman Reservoir, Glocester; Worden 
Pond, South Kingstown; Coventry Center Pond and Lake Tiogue, 
Coventry; Stafford Pond, Tiverton; Oak Swamp Reservoir, Johnston; 
Spring Lake, Burrillville. Small boats may be hired at all these ponds. 
(See General Information for fishing laws.) 

Boating. The diversity of craft to be seen in Rhode Island waters is 
of great interest to visitors. Regular steamer schedules are maintained 
throughout the year connecting Providence and New York City. In the 
summer months, excursion boats provide daily service between Provi- 
dence, Newport, Block Island, and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. 
Regular runs are also made daily to Block Island from Newport, Point 
Judith, and New London in Connecticut. Such excursion craft, hi addi- 
tion, often make nightly trips on the bay generally with a sail around 
the men-of-war stationed in Newport Harbor as the objective. Smaller 
boats may be chartered by private parties or persons to suit individual 

There are harbors on the Atlantic Ocean at Block Island, Sakonnet 
Point, Point Judith, and Little Narragansett Bay. Outside of the com- 
mercial ports at Newport and Providence, there are inland anchorages 
at Tiverton, Wickford, East Greenwich, Warren, Bristol, and Pawtuxet 
Cove. Three ship channels enter Narragansett Bay from the ocean. 
The east passage enters the bay at Brenton's Point, and has a depth to 
Providence of about thirty feet. The west passage runs between Beaver 
Tail and Whale Rock, and has a channel of about twenty-five feet in 
depth. The third entrance is the Sakonnet River, with a minimum depth 
of twenty-one feet. The ship channel in Mount Hope Bay extends to 
Fall River, Massachusetts. All ship channels in the State are clearly 
defined by regular markings, which are recorded on charts issued by the 
Federal Government. 

The shores of the State are lined with pleasure boats, ranging from 
frail homemade affairs to palatial seagoing yachts. Slow chugging power- 
boats, fleet launches, skiffs, sea-sleds, and even occasional canoes pro- 
pelled by outboard motors combine with a great variety of sailboats to 
make an ever-changing panorama. 

During the racing season, events are held for all types of sailing boats, 
some being confined to club membership and others open to all who may 
wish to enter. Competitive classes are many, and their appellations are 
decidedly interesting to the uninitiated; cruisers, beetles, snowbirds, 

132 Rhode Island : The General Background 

snipes, dinghies, stars, pilots, nimblets, kittens, and comets are the names 
of some types, while Warwick Neckers, Newport dories, and Bristol 
twelve-and-a-half-footers denote certain localized classes. Even winter's 
icy blasts fail to discourage a few of the more hardy, and a class termed 
'frostbiters' engages in competition as long as open water remains. 

Bathing. With the approach of the summer months, the beaches of 
the State take on an appearance of activity. Summer residences of 
mansion proportions, as at Newport and Narragansett Pier, as well as 
little one or two-room shacks, thousands of which are to be found nestling 
by inland waters and along the seaboard all shed their protective 
winter coverings in anticipation of the hot weather. Summer colonies 
are in evidence all along Narragansett Bay, offering social advantages 
in addition to the beach and its enjoyments. Some of the better-known 
bathing beaches are at Block Island, Newport, Jamestown, Point Judith, 
Narragansett Pier, and Little Compton. Public beaches nearer the largest 
city, Providence, include Barrington, Riverside, and Crescent Park in 
East Providence, Gaspee Point and Goddard Memorial Park in Warwick. 
Owners of property fronting on navigable water have State permission 
to erect piers or other structures to the water, even though these prevent 
passage along the shore. The public has free access to the tidal shores 
of the State below high-water line, except in cases where owner's riparian 
rights are exercised. 

Hunting. Small game and wild fowl are found in certain parts of Rhode 
Island. Such towns as North Smithfield, Smithneld, Glocester, South 
Kingstown, Richmond, and Exeter are favorite hunting grounds. A 
large part of the land is privately owned and posted, but often permission 
may be obtained to hunt. Despite the high percentage of population to 
the square mile in the State, there remain extensive tracts of unbroken 
woodland. This is especially true of South County. Muskrat, mink, 
raccoon, rabbits, hare, and gray squirrels are hunted in season, as are 
partridge, quail, woodcock, rails, Wilson snipes, pheasant, and wild duck, 
swan, and geese. (See General Information for hunting laws.) 

Parks. The natural beauties of Rhode Island are emphasized by the 
many city and State parks, where walks or drives through scenes of 
quiet loveliness and facilities for more active recreational pastimes pro- 
vide opportunity for needed relaxation. Roger Williams Park is one of 
the largest and most beautiful in New England. Owned by the city of 
Providence, it is situated two and one-half miles from the business center. 
Nine miles of drives and boulevards, which wind gracefully amid gardens, 
rolling lawns, and along a chain of lakes, are contained in its 452 acres. 

Sports, Recreation, and Conservation 133 

Tennis courts, bridle paths, athletic fields, a natural history museum and 
a zoo help to enliven public interest. 

Lincoln Woods Reservation, a State-maintained park in the town of 
Lincoln, offers an appearance of being the untouched handiwork of nature. 
An exploratory trip, however, reveals ten miles of good roads leading 
through the six hundred acres of wooded hills. It is a favored rendezvous 
for picnic parties, more than fifty fireplaces being provided for their use. 
Several camp sites, ten miles of bridle paths, and a convenient athletic 
field are additional attractions. 

Goddard Memorial Park in Warwick, originally a privately owned 
estate and tree reservation, but later deeded to the State, comprises 
472 acres devoted to public use. Broad drives, secluded bridle paths, 
salt-water bathing, picnic groves and fireplaces, golf, and a recreational 
center may all be enjoyed here. The better State parks for recreation 
include also: Beach Pond Park, Exeter; Burlingame Reservation, 
Charlestown; Ten Mile River Reservation, Pawtucket; Scarborough 
Beach, Narragansett; George Washington Memorial Forest, Glocester; 
Dawley Memorial Park, Richmond. 

Winter Sports. The public parks in the State are also utilized for 
winter sports, affording a certain degree of safety over unsupervised 
locations. Skating is the most favored of such sports, while skiing and 
tobogganing have their share of supporters. The number of ice boats to 
be seen skimming over the frozen surfaces also increases each year. In 
Providence, the street cars and busses carry signs to indicate when skating 
is permissible in Roger Williams Park; while the Rhode Island Audito- 
rium, on North Main Street, advertises skating on artificial ice. At 
Meshanticut Lake, Cranston, is a heated log cabin for the comfort of 
skaters, and flood lights illuminate the lake at night. Most of the skating 
is done on inland waters similar to the above, as Narragansett Bay re- 
mains free of ice for the greater part of each winter. Toboggan slides of 
note are the ones at Neutaconkanut Hill, Providence, and Fairweather's 
slide in Cumberland. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Rail- 
way attracts many patrons with special week-end 'snow trains' to points 
north during the winter months. 

Golf. The public and private golf courses, over thirty in number, are 
scattered over the whole State. Many of the clubs and courses such 
as Metacomet, Pocasset, and Sachuest derive their titles from our 
Indian predecessors. At least twelve of the local courses are open to the 
public at nominal fees. Tournaments are held annually to decide club, 
district, junior, and State championships. 

134 Rhode Island: The General Background 

Athletics. Baseball and football of the sand-lot variety flourish within 
the State, although there are no organized professional teams in these 
sports. Each community has its near-by field, to which hundreds of 
spectators are attracted by amateur contests. Rhode Island's public and 
private schools compete in different divisions, while local college teams 
figure prominently in intercollegiate contests. 

Indoor sports, such as basketball, track, swimming, boxing, wrestling, 
etc., are fostered by the educational institutions, by Y.M.C.A. Boys' 
Clubs, and by smaller chartered athletic clubs. Public and private tennis 
courts are well patronized, and tennis players of national ranking partici- 
pate in the annual Newport Invitation Tournament. Professional boxing 
and wrestling matches are common in Providence, being usually held at 
Infantry Hall on South Main Street, or at the Rhode Island Auditorium. 
The Auditorium houses an organized professional team in the Inter- 
national American Hockey League. College, schoolboy, and amateur 
teams are also seen in action as part of this rink's activities. 

A sport of long-standing popularity in Rhode Island is soccer football. 
Each year new leagues and new teams are seen in competition. Soccer 
is included among college, secondary, and schoolboy athletic sports, while 
semi-professional and amateur teams receive enthusiastic support. The 
larger fields devoted to soccer are in Pawtucket, Providence, Thornton 
in Johnston, and Westerly. These four sections are represented by play- 
ing units in the New England division of the American Soccer League. 

Hiking. Miles of quiet country roads and long stretches of accessible 
shoreline are suitable for walks. Most of the State reservations afford 
the advantages of forest trails and paths. Narragansett Trail, which 
extends from Worden's Pond, South Kingstown, to Greenfalls Pond, 
Connecticut, is the longest and best marked route for hikers within the 
State. This trail was laid out by the Narragansett Chapter of the Ap- 
palachian Mountain Club, with field headquarters at Worden's Pond, 
and is maintained by that organization. 

Amusement Parks. During the summer months, amusement resorts 
situated on the shore are enjoyed by a large number of persons. Offering 
all types of amusements and concessions, they are generally open from 
about the first of June until Labor Day. Such resorts are found at Rocky 
Point and Oakland Beach in Warwick, Crescent Park in East Providence, 
Island Park at Portsmouth, Newport Public Baching Beach in Newport, 
and Atlantic Beach at Westerly. 

Sports, Recreation, and Conservation 135 


The State is now engaged in an extensive park program designed not 
only to offer recreational facilities but also to protect its plant and 
animal resources. Rhode Island has two State forests, both acquired in 
1932 the George Washington Memorial Forest in northwestern Gloces- 
ter, and Wickaboxet State Forest in West Greenwich. Both of these are 
used for experimental purposes, and for the breeding and protection of 
birds and wild animals. Deer, rabbits, squirrels, quail, partridge, and 
pheasants may be found there in abundance. The forests are game 
sanctuaries, and no hunting is allowed. 

In addition to its State forests, Rhode Island owns or controls 41 
other parks and reservations, containing nearly six thousand acres of land, 
some wooded, some open, and some consisting of sandy beach areas. 
These reservations are controlled by the Division of Forests, Parks and 
Parkways, in the Department of Agriculture and Conservation. The 
present State park system is the outgrowth of a movement dating back 
to the founding of the Public Park Association in 1883. In 1900, Henry 
A. Barker of Providence prepared for this association a plan of a park 
system for Providence and its vicinity, which led to the organization in 
1904 of the Metropolitan Park Commission. In 1922, the Commission 
was enlarged to become State-wide in scope, and in 1935 it was replaced 
by the above-mentioned division. In addition to the public recreation 
facilities supported by the park authority, the Division of Roads and 
Bridges maintains a number of picnic groves along heavily traveled high- 

Outside of the reclamation work being done by the division of forests 
and parks, the Federal Government has established and financed five 
Civilian Conservation Camps on State-owned reservations. At the close 
of 1935, the Federal Government was employing nine hundred men in 
these camps, and was also considering the development of about 13,800 
acres in the western part of the State as national forests or parks. 

In connection with water resources, the State Planning Board in 1936 
recommended some thirty-two projects for completion at various dates 
before 1957. These plans include better sewer systems in the Black- 
stone, Pawtuxet, Moshassuck, and Woonasquatucket valleys; harbor im- 
provements at Providence, Newport, and Little Narragansett Bay; and 
the enlargement of ten or more reservoirs for local water supply systems. 

136 Rhode Island: The General Background 

The board has also recommended several flood control projects, particu- 
larly in the Blackstone Valley, a re-survey of oyster beds, starfish control, 
and the elimination of pollution in State waters. The establishment of a 
State marine biological laboratory has recently been authorized. 

In respect to recreation, which features prominently in the conserva- 
tion program, the board reported in 1936 that to the 5975 acres of State 
reservations of the preceding year had been added 377 acres hi Cumber- 
land and 1 6 acres at Scarborough Beach. Two projects are on foot for 
Federal purchase of 10,365 acres as State forests, and 4000 acres for the 
Beach Pond Reservation. The board has also undertaken a careful sur- 
vey of transportation facilities, including plans for improving the physical 
appearance of local roadsides. 

Among natural forest sanctuaries for birds and animals are the Beach 
Pond and Dawley Parks, George Washington Memorial Forest, Wicka- 
boxet and Burlingame Reservations. In these reserves, partridge and 
quail are restocked, alder, dogwood, willow, and highbush blueberry are 
planted as cover for birds, and food is scattered when the natural supplies 
are snowed under. The Kimball Bird Sanctuary, consisting of twenty- 
nine acres in Charlestown, is stocked with food during the winter, and 
there are a few other reservations throughout the State which feed and 
protect the birds. 


IT IS impossible to determine exactly the sort of houses that Roger 
Williams and his friends built in 1636, when they settled around the spring 
on what is now North Main Street, Providence. Scanty documents sug- 
gest that they were very crude log huts, roofed with bark or thatch, and 
plastered with clay. If chimneys were built, they too were of plastered 

Within a very few years, as carpenters and stone masons moved in to 
the new settlement at the head of Narragansett Bay, these temporary 
huts were replaced by larger and more permanent dwellings. But even 
these, in Providence at least, were more picturesque than comfortable. 
All the houses of this early period have been destroyed, most of them dur- 
ing King Philip's War in 1675-76; but Norman M. Isham, working in the 
final years of the nineteenth century, found enough remains to recon- 
struct their original appearance. Houses in the Providence area that 
is, almost the entire northern half of the Colony were derived from the 
simple rugged homes of the medieval English yeoman. They had usually 
one lower section called the fire-room, and a small half-story chamber 
above. The structures were framed of heavy hand-hewn timbers, some- 
times vertically boarded, sometimes studded and plastered inside, 
covered with clapboards and roofed with shingles. An enormous chimney 
occupied nearly an entire end of the house. Into this, in the lower room 
only, was built a huge fireplace, usually about eight feet wide, four feet 
deep, and six feet high. Inside the fireplace were cranes on which pots 
might be hung, and in one end was an oven for baking. Alongside the 
fireplace was a stairway, little more than a ladder, which led to the cham- 
ber above. At first the few windows were covered with paper soaked in 
linseed oil, and protected by wooden shutters. Later the paper was re- 
placed by glass, usually set in wood with square panes, sometimes leaded 
with diamond-shaped panes. These houses were small, with very little 
decoration Inside or out. 

While this type of dwelling was being built in the Providence area, the 
settlers of Newport and South County were building houses similar to 
the so-called Connecticut type. These had a central chimney, straddling 
the roof ridge and dividing the house into two equal-sized lower rooms, 

138 Rhode Island: The General Background 

with a fireplace in each. Two half-story upper chambers were reached 
by a stairway alongside each fireplace. At Wickford, builders employed 
both the South County and the Providence modes of construction. 

As mentioned above, none of these earliest houses remain. All but 
five were burned by the Indians, and the rest have subsequently disap- 
peared. A copy of the Roger Mowry House of Providence, based on the 
measurements made by John Hutchins Cady, has been erected in recent 
years on the estate of Albert Lownes in South Kingstown. 

As the settlers rebuilt their homes after King Philip's War, those in 
Newport and South County appear to have adhered to the earlier forms, 
but the Providence builders began to experiment. Some two-story houses 
were erected, but the most distinctive innovation was to build two fire- 
places in the large end-chimney, separating them by a wall which divided 
the former fire-room into two equal-sized rooms. The plan was still 
rectangular, and the upper floor was supported partly by the side girts, 
or wall beams, and partly by a large center 'summer beam' ('summer,' 
from Norman French sommier, from Low Latin sagmarius, meaning 
'pack horse'). At the rear of the house, a lean-to or pent was sometimes 
added. During this period, which extends up to 1700, all the chimneys 
were built of stone, and on this single feature nearly all efforts at decora- 
tion were lavished. The stone masons were either from England or had 
learned their trade from English masters. They adorned the caps of the 
chimneys by laying in several courses of flat stones, in imitation of the 
ancient chimneys of the homeland. Pilasters added to the monumental 
appearance of these piles of masonry, many of which survive today with 
virtually new houses built around them. 

The interiors of this time have been pictorially imagined by Mr. Isham. 
' Inside the house the sanded floor, the blackened fireplace with its volume 
of roaring and writhing fire, the summer and joists, the posts and girts all 
frankly showing, all beautifully planed and champfered with all the care 
the ancient craftsman could bestow, must have had a fine effect.' A few 
houses of this period survive, although most have been greatly altered: 
the Thomas Clemence House in Man ton (see Tour 11), the Thomas Fen- 
ner House in Cranston (see Tour 2), and the Eleazer Arnold House in 
Lincoln (see Tour 44). These houses were built between the approxi- 
mate dates of 1650 and 1690. The Eleazer Arnold House (1687) is in the 
most nearly original state, retaining its great end chimney and floor plan. 
The pitch of the roof in back has been raised above the pitch of the chim- 
ney wall; the original high-peaked gable in front, and the small casement 
windows, have been replaced by an ordinary sloping roof and sash win- 

Architecture 139 

dows. But these and other minor alterations are not recent. The house 
is now owned by the Society for the Preservation of New England 

The next distinct period of Rhode Island architecture extended from 
1700 to approximately 1730. It was marked by enlargement of the former 
plans, some additional experimentation on the old forms, an increased 
tendency to beautify the interior, and notably by the introduction of brick 
chimneys. The beginnings of the great shipping fortunes of the later 
eighteenth century were being accumulated at this time, and increased 
wealth led to increased outlay for homes. Philip Tillinghast, on lower 
Towne Street in Providence, had a house 30 by 40 feet and two stories 
high, with five handsomely decorated rooms on each floor. This building 
has disappeared, but surviving houses of the first quarter of the century 
are the Gushing House, formerly the White Horse Tavern, in North 
Providence (before 1700) (see Tour 11); the Edward Searle House in 
Cranston (1671, rebuilt 1728) (see Tour 2); and the Tucker House on the 
Lownes estate in South Kingstown (1731) (see Tour 1). 

After the first quarter of the eighteenth century, Rhode Island archi- 
tecture, as well as that in the other Colonies, began to be influenced by 
the classicism of the English Renaissance. The change came very slowly. 
At first the large center chimney was retained, with three fireplaces on 
each floor. Symmetry of fenestration, or window arrangement, was 
adopted, the usual pattern being that of five in the second story and four 
on the first, with the entrance door under the middle window. In some 
of the houses, such as that of Stephen Hopkins (see PROVIDENCE, 
Foot Tour 3), only three windows occurred in the lower tier, the door be- 
ing placed with one window on one side and two on the other. The houses 
had projecting gables. Later, chimneys were built near the two ends, 
straddling the roof ridge and having two fireplaces apiece on each floor, 
thus accommodating all eight rooms. With the introduction of end 
chimneys, a central hall could extend through the house. At this time, 
also, began the more elaborate decoration of doorways with pediments, 
transoms, and pilasters. Many excellent examples of this type of house 
can be found throughout the State. A final evolutionary stage in what 
came to be known as ' true Providence Colonial ' was the incorporation of 
two chimneys at each end of the house. An interesting survival of this re- 
mains in the end of the old Franklin House, which has been incorporated 
in the new School of Design building (see PROVIDENCE, Foot Tour 1); 
and an adaptation of it occurs in the two highest outer pediments of the 
Providence County Courthouse (see PROVIDENCE, Foot Tour 1). 

140 Rhode Island: The General Background 

The use of wood for building continued until after the first half of the 
century, when the greater availability of brick diminished its usefulness. 

American Colonial architecture of the Georgian period, 'the flower 
of American classicism,' was never subject to the stylistic excesses that 
ran through England in the later eighteenth century. There were several 
causes for this the relatively austere simplicity of American life as com- 
pared with that of England and the Continent, the non-professional stand- 
ing and the fortunate good taste of American designers and builders, and 
the wide circulation in this country of books and plans by certain English 
architects. These latter publications, ranging from small octavos to 
large folios, contained designs for public buildings, homes, and churches 
which served as fundamental plans for innumerable Georgian Colonial 
structures all along the north Atlantic seaboard. Most of the books were 
issued during the second quarter of the eighteenth century, when English 
architecture was still fairly conservative, and American builders often 
simplified and refined the English models. The largest, most famous, and 
admittedly the best of these publications was James Gibbs's 'Book of 
Architecture, Designs, and Ornaments,' first issued in London in 1728. 
Plate 30 in this volume contains three designs for church spires, one of 
which was used, without the slightest change except in the last window 
stage and in the decoration around the clock, for the First Baptist 
Mee ting-House, erected in Providence in 1775 (see PROVIDENCE, Foot 
Tour 1). Adaptations of spire designs with complex and delicate ar- 
rangement of stages were sometimes unfortunate in America, and the 
ingenuity of the Baptist tower and steeple lies not only in its beautiful 
design but also in the faithfulness of its construction. The work had to be 
projected from a drawing, a horizontal section, and the scantiest of meas- 
urements and specifications. Much credit for this execution goes to 
James Sumner, a 'Master Workman of Boston,' who supervised the con- 
struction. The church itself, except for the projecting tower on the 
west and a subsequently added baptistery on the east, is of square de- 
sign (80 by 80 feet) with a very low-pitched roof; both of these factors 
unite to give it an expansive, comfortable, even 'domestic' appearance. 
The side doors recall the old meeting-house tradition of convenient access 
to all citizens. 

The architect of the church was Joseph Brown, one of the four brothers 
who figured so largely in Rhode Island's flourishing eighteenth-century 
commerce. He was not only an amateur architect but also a student of 
mathematics and astronomy, and was so well versed in philosophy that 
he became a professor of that subject in Rhode Island College, the institu- 

Architecture 141 

tion which later bore his family name as Brown University. The ' College 
edifice,' where he taught, was of his own design, as were also the Market 
House (with Stephen Hopkins as collaborator) in Market Square, the 
comfortable residence at the present No. 50 South Main Street, and the 
beautiful mansion at No. 52 Power Street, designed for his brother John. 
This Power Street house (see PROVIDENCE, Foot Tour 3) is considered 
by many the finest of its kind in New England, and John Quincy Adams 
once declared it the most magnificent and elegant mansion he had seen 
on this continent. The house, square in plan and three stories high, is of 
'late Georgian' character, with a low-hipped roof, delicately modeled 
parapet rail, and third-story windows that are not so high as those of the 
first and second floors. The dormers are embellished with elaborate scroll 
pediments. Admirable in elevation and mass, this brick edifice is accented 
by the unusual contrast of red sandstone and white wood trim. 

Brown was less famous as an architect than his older contemporary, 
Peter Harrison, called ' the prince of amateurs ' and considered by Fiske 
Kimball to be the most notable architect of Colonial America. Harrison 
was born at York, England, in 1716, and came to Newport in 1740, 
where he joined his brother as partner in a mercantile establishment. 
Unconfirmed accounts have linked his name with that of Sir John Van- 
brugh in the design of Blenheim House in London; but his work on the 
draughting board in America consisted of drawing maps of Cape Breton 
and Newport during King George's War in 1745, and assisting in the plans 
of Newport's fortifications the following year. His first building was the 
Redwood Library at Newport, begun in 1748. In 1749, he was invited to 
Boston by the congregation that commissioned the building of King's 
Chapel, and his plans for the edifice were accepted. In 1761, he designed 
the Brick Market in Newport and Christ Church in Cambridge, the latter 
being the only edifice for which he collected a greater fee than a vote of 
thanks or a 'piece of plate.' His last building was the Touro Synagogue 
at Newport, begun in 1762, the year after he moved to New Haven, 
Connecticut, where he had accepted the commission of Collector of Cus- 
toms. Harrison died at New Haven in 1775. 

Rhode Island's third amateur architect, though chronologically the 
first, was Richard Munday, of Newport and Bristol, who appears first in 
the Newport civic records in 1713 as an innkeeper, later as a 'House 
Carpenter,' and in 1722 as a freeman (i.e., legal voter). His two great 
monuments are Trinity Church and the Old Colony House, both at 
Newport. There have been many disputes about Trinity's architect. 
Completely erroneous but persistent legends attribute the building to 

142 Rhode Island : The General Background 

Peter Harrison, who did not arrive in Newport until fifteen years after 
the church was erected. The resemblance of Trinity's plan and spire to 
that of Christ (the ' Old North ') Church in Boston has led to an assump- 
tion that William Price, architect of the latter, influenced if not devised 
Trinity's plans. Circumstantial evidence unearthed by Norman M. 
Isham reveals beyond reasonable doubt, however, that Munday was the 
architect, and that Munday, as well as Price and many others, derived 
their plans from Christopher Wren possibly from his St. James, Picca- 
dilly, St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, or from doubtfully existent plans for 
a new St. Anne's, Blackfriars, to replace the church destroyed in the 
Great Fire. Munday's Old Colony House is a remarkably original work 
for its day. Georgian in mass and elevation, it has a gambrel roof sur- 
mounted by a deck and an octagonal cupola. It is of red brick, trimmed 
with rusticated sandstone and white wood, with a triple belt-course be- 
tween the first and second stories. A startling feature of the building is a 
truncated gable pediment rising from the roof line to the level of the deck 
and almost encroaching upon the inner dormers. The beautifully fash- 
ioned woodwork of the doorway, with its surmounting balcony and win- 
dow, is carried out in the interior, being especially noteworthy in the 
balusters and rail of the stairway, the wall paneling, and the benches of 
the old legislative chambers (see NEWPORT, Foot Tour 1). 

A fourth architect, a practical builder during the last decade of the 
eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth, was John 
Holden Greene. Although working in the 'Early Republican' period, he 
clung with some tenacity to the Georgian precedent set by Joseph Brown. 
His earlier houses are more lavish than his later ones, but all have a defi- 
nite air of solidity. He seems to have been more successful with wood than 
with brick; in using the latter material he was sometimes unable to avoid 
heaviness. Among the homes built by Greene in Providence are the 
Governor Elisha Dyer House, on Power Street, which he built for his own 
use; the Sullivan Dorr House, on lower Benefit Street; the Truman Beck- 
with House, at Benefit Street and College Hill, now occupied by the 
Handicraft Club; and the Crawford Allen House, at the corner of Benevo- 
lent and Megee Streets. 

Greene distinguished himself as an ecclesiastical as well as a domestic 
architect, for he designed the First Congregational Church at Benefit and 
Benevolent Streets, Providence, which was erected in 1816. The steeple 
contains the largest bell cast in the foundry of Paul Revere and Son. The 
church is a free copy of the New South Church in Boston, designed by 
Bulfinch and since destroyed. The tower, resembling that of the First 


IN THE latter half of the seventeenth century the staunch- 
est part of a Rhode Island house was its end chimney. In 
surviving structures such as the Clemence House (about 1650) 
and the Eleazer Arnold Tavern (1687), this feature is well 
emphasized; in the former by contrast with the somewhat 
modernized exterior of the house, and in the latter by its mag- 

Local use of English books on architecture brought, in the 
eighteenth century, a formality, if not quite a standardization, 
to American design. Rhode Island architects adapted the 
academic style according to their own individualities. Thus 
the body of the First Baptist Meeting-House has a distinctly 
American character, although the spire was copied from an 
English design. The Old Colony House at Newport, the John 
Brown House, and the John Carter Brown House show 
similar adaptations. The treatment of doorways, although 
occasionally ornate, attained a fine formal beauty. 

The Crawford Allen House, Linden Place, and 'Hearthside* 
illustrate early nineteenth-century developments in individual 
treatment. The doorway of the Slatersville house, with its 
winged urn decoration, is individual to the point of being sur- 













*' ' 


- 'v. 









Architecture 143 

Baptist Meeting-House in the proportion of its stages, was suggested by 
the work of James Gibbs. The main structure, rectangular in plan, is a 
significant fusion of both classical and Gothic motifs. The projecting 
tower on the west end has a portico supported by four Roman Doric 
columns. A portion of its pediment is cut away to allow the encroach- 
ment of a wide arched window an audacious adaptation executed with 
a nice harmony. This is regarded as one of the finer churches surviving 
from the ' Early Republican' period. 

The Nightingale-Brown House, at No. 357 Benefit St., is one of Provi- 
dence's finest architectural monuments. It is probably the work of Caleb 
Ormsbee, whose only other recorded edifice is the First Congregational 
Church, erected in 1795, destroyed by fire, and replaced by the present 
structure in 1816. The house, magnificent in proportions, is three stories 
high and square in plan, with a pavilion surmounted by a pediment and 
a beautifully wrought balustrade surrounding the roof. The structural 
decorations are remarkable for the skill with which they have been exe- 
cuted the quoins, modillions, and dentils have all been spaced and 
proportioned with great care and precision. The mansion stands just a 
block south of the John Brown House; there are no intervening struc- 
tures, so that the two mansions form an imposing combination. 

Although the most notable architectural monuments of the eighteenth 
and early nineteenth centuries were built in Providence and Newport, 
other thriving communities expressed their wealth and love of good living 
in mansions no less worthy. Wickford, busy with shipbuilding, had a 
Main Street lined with fine homes. The Immanuel Case House, at No. 64, 
is architecturally the best of these. Built in 1786, it is two and a half 
stories in height and has a gable roof with two chimneys, thus adhering 
to an earlier Colonial style. Dignified and restrained in its mass and ele- 
vation, it has a beautiful doorway framed by Ionic pilasters and a pedi- 
ment, and the interior woodwork is remarkable for its originality. The 
towns of Warren and Bristol were also busy with shipping, and their 
prosperity was reflected in several mansions built in the first three decades 
of the nineteenth century. In Warren were the Waterman House (about 
1820) and the Bliss-Ruisden House (1825) two structures which, un- 
fortunately, have suffered from Victorian rebuilding to the extent that 
their period character has been lost, although much of the interior wood- 
work was retained. The Waterman House has recently been demolished. 
The mansions in Bristol, however, have undergone very little change, and 
their architecture is at once magnificent and fanciful, especially on the 
exterior. The Howe-Churchill-Diman House (about 1809) is a well- 

144 Rhode Island : The General Background 

proportioned square edifice that catches the eye by reason of the eagles on 
its parapet. Antoinette F. Downing, author of a forthcoming book on 
'Early Homes in Rhode Island,' thus characterizes an aspect of Bristol 
architecture of which this house is a salient example: 'Bristol building is 
especially notable for the variety of the parapet rails, now Chinese, now 
academic, now fantastic in detail, and this one with its Chinese Chippen- 
dale flavour and its sections raised above the main height is one of the 
best of many delightful examples.' Another mansion, 'Linden Place' 
(1810), is distinguished by a colossal portico. 'Hearthside,' in Lincoln, 
built in 1810 by Stephen Smith (see Tour 44), is another good example of 
a mansion conceived with taste and originality. It is built of cut stone, 
with a rare and graceful double-curved gable and a huge portico of square 

Russell Warren, a native of Tiverton who had come to Bristol in 1800, 
was the architect of 'Linden Place' and probably had a hand in the design 
of the Howe-Churchill-Diman House, to say nothing of several mansions 
that have since been destroyed. Before leaving Bristol for Fall River and 
New Bedford, Massachusetts, and eventually Charleston, South Carolina, 
he collaborated with Major James C. Bucklin on several Providence 
buildings. The work of these two architects represents the best in the local 
transition from 'Early Republican' to the 'Neo-Classic' or 'Greek 
Revival ' style. They collaborated on the design of the famous Providence 
Arcade, the only surviving example of many similar structures erected in 
America between 1820 and 1830. A pediment at the Westminster Street 
entrance, and an attic at the Weybosset Street end, are both supported 
by massive Ionic monoliths weighing thirteen tons each. They also de- 
signed the Providence Athenaeum, a gray stone building with a low- 
ridged roof and a plain loggia supported by two Doric columns an 
altogether simple and impressive structure. Bucklin was an apprentice 
to John Holden Greene, and among his individual works are Manning Hall 
at Brown University, the Butler Hospital, and more than 100 of the tex- 
tile mills that are so familiar a sight to the New England traveler. 
Whether or not Russell Warren's removal to Charleston has any relation 
to the fact, it is an interesting coincidence that South Carolina and Rhode 
Island simultaneously saw the first erection of mills designed by a pro- 
fessional architect. 

The 'Gothic Revival' in America gave several notable churches to 
Rhode Island, including the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Grace 
Church, and Saint Stephen's Church, all of Providence, not to mention 
several later churches in Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and elsewhere. At- 

Architecture 145 

tempts to adapt Gothic spires and pointed arches to home design were 
eminently unsuccessful, and the movement found its way into a few 
office buildings and schoolhouses, with an effect that is picayune and 

The 'Hudson River bracketed style,' marked by a lavish use of jigsaw 
ornaments, had its day in Rhode Island as elsewhere. The typical house 
in this style is perfectly square, with a flat roof which projects beyond 
the walls. Below the projection, as well as below the cornices on windows 
and doorways, are supporting brackets shaped with all the ingenuity of 
a mad sawyer. From these brackets, which first prevailed on homes along 
the Hudson River, the style took its name. Occasionally the style is varied 
by the use of the mansard roof a sort of cap, added where the top of a 
house might normally end, with steeply sloping sides broken at regular 
intervals by dormer windows. Examples of both types of houses are 
numerous in the old residential section paralleling Broadway, in Provi- 
dence, and on the city's east side, in the region of upper Williams, Power, 
and Charles Field Streets. They were especially popular during the 
years just following the Civil War. It must be noted that very often the 
interiors of these houses were decorated in good though somewhat luxu- 
rious taste, with high ceilings, striking mouldings, decorated chandelier 
outlets, and silvered glass door-knobs. 

Following the * Hudson River style ' came a succession of Italian villas, 
Swiss chalets, and hybrid houses which adapted the cupola as decoration 
rather than as a look-out point, the result being to make the cupola an 
excrescence rather than an integral part of the structure. These may be 
found throughout the State, but especially on upper Washington Street 
and Broadway in Providence. 

In the i88o's a Romanesque influence came to America. Houses which 
evidence this influence are frequent and unattractive. Providence offers 
a few public buildings of Romanesque design, such as Memorial Hall 
(Rhode Island School of Design) on Benefit Street, and Sayles Hall on 
the middle campus at Brown University. These buildings enjoyed a 
period of admiration, but attract little attention today. 

At the turn of the century, Rhode Island began to witness a return to 
the Georgian and 'Early Republican' modes of architectural design. 
Many of the palaces on Newport's Ocean Drive, designed by McKim, 
Mead and White, show a return to the Italian Renaissance, which in- 
directly influenced the Georgian; but the firm's Rhode Isfemd State House 
is much less extravagant in expression. Following the classic capitol 
style with its peristyled dome, this edifice of Georgia marble has a facade 

146 Rhode Island: The General Background 

in which ornamentation has been reduced to a simplicity definitely remi- 
niscent of the Georgian and 'Early Republican' periods. The building 
has been criticized because of a slightly overweighted pavilion and the 
four decorative domes at the base of the large one, but the facade repre- 
sents a successful version of Italian Renaissance and American influences. 
The relation of window space to mass, and the absence of cornices, pedi- 
ments, and other projections, show a refinement particularly American. 
Pilasters, keystone ornaments over the arches in the panels of the first 
tier of windows, and carved festoons between the second and third tier, 
have been employed with pleasant economy. G. H. Edgell, former Dean 
of the Faculty of Architecture at Harvard University, has commented 
thus : ' For a civic building, America both lay and professional de- 
manded not only power, but restraint. The Rhode Island State House 
embodies both/ 

The Providence County Courthouse (1933) and the new School of 
Design building (1937), rising on opposite sides of College Hill, constitute 
an impressive and well-integrated group of modern buildings designed in 
a frankly reminiscent style. Of red brick with limestone trim, these steel- 
skeletoned structures have the familiar fenestration of older and smaller 
Georgian houses, with the Palladian windows, sunken arch panels, and 
restrained decoration of the 'Early Republican' period. The tower on 
the Courthouse, with its well-proportioned stages, is appropriately 
suggestive of a past era, but is actually without any precedent. The 
group was designed by Jackson, Robertson and Adams of Providence. 
Another modern building of 'Early Republican' style is the Pawtucket 
High School, which can best be seen from the west end of the High Street 

Two other derivative modern buildings, smaller in scale, deserve men- 
tion that of the Providence National Bank (1929), and that of the 
Providence Gas Company (1924). The former, a narrow structure three 
stories high, is of the usual red brick with limestone trim and white-ribbed 
windows. Three unassuming Georgian dormers rise above the roof on 
the third floor; the single windows on each side of the doorway are arched 
and expansive, while the middle window in the second story has side 
lights and is surmounted by an elliptical pediment supported by pilasters 
and generously adorned with modillions and other decorations. Between 
the first and second stories is a balcony of iron grillwork. The Providence 
Gas Company building is notable chiefly for its double-curved pediment 
reminiscent of the Joseph Brown House. Wallis E. Howe, of the Provi- 
dence firm of Howe and Church, designed both structures. 

Architecture 147 

Modern domestic architecture in Rhode Island has shown a definite 
swing toward the Georgian and 'Early Republican' motifs. Many resi- 
dences along Blackstone Boulevard, and in the region between the Boule- 
vard and Morris Avenue, derive their proportions and essential structure 
from the earlier types, but refinement of design and material prevents 
them from being ' copies ' the architects have bowed to the past only 
in using a skeleton that has stood a long test. 

The skyline of Providence is dominated by the twenty-four-story In- 
dustrial Trust Building, the only structure in the city with an avowed 
vertical design. Of limestone with granite base, the building measures 
416 feet from the sidewalk level to the top of its lantern on the central 
tower; and its recessions begin at the height of fifty feet, repeating at the 
ninth, fifteenth, and twenty-second stories. The building's ground area, 
140 by 200 feet, demanded a structure sixty feet greater in length than 
in width, so that it has two silhouettes broad from the east or west, 
narrow from north or south. Its shape is like a broad letter H, and its 
units consist of a square central tower with rectangular wings on the north 
and south which in their turn have projecting square wings at their outer 
angles. The proportions of the building, the relative height of the wings, 
and the judiciously designed setbacks combine to make the building a 
handsome and satisfying structure, whether viewed in its north-south or 
its east-west character. Verticality is emphasized by shallow buttresses 
reaching a simple peak slightly above the roof lines of each wing, and by 
the broader angle piers. The piers and buttresses are channeled at the 
base and at the top, forming virtually the only structural decoration. A 
wide belt-course encircling the building beneath the first stage, or fifty- 
foot level, contains bas-reliefs depicting commercially significant inven- 
tions an early railroad train, the first steamboat, and so on carved 
in a naive angular style. The central doorway projects slightly, is bor- 
dered by two wide piers, and is surmounted by an arched window rising 
to the belt-course; on either side of the doorway are two vertical windows, 
rectangular in shape and rising to the same height. The lantern sur- 
mounting the central tower serves as a beacon at night, its red neon glow 
being visible for many miles, and it also conceals the building's chimney. 
Walker and Gillette, of New York, and George Frederic Hall, of Provi- 
dence, were the architects. The building was opened October i, 1928. 

Several monumental works recently erected in Providence are worthy 
of note. The Benedict Monument to Music, usually known as the Bene- 
dict Memorial, was dedicated in 1924. It is a Greek colonnade, con- 
structed of marble, and set on a wide marble base in the middle of a natu- 

148 Rhode Island : The General Background 

ral amphitheater in Roger Williams Park. William T. Aldrich, formerly 
of Bellows and Aldrich, New York, is its architect. The World War 
Memorial, at Memorial Square, was designed by Paul Cret of Phila- 
delphia. This massive fluted shaft, set on a polygonal base, rises to a 
height of 115 feet, and is surmounted by a heroic figure of Peace, carved 
in modern style with economy of line and emphasis on mass. The Roger 
Williams Memorial, designed by Ralph Walker, once a resident of Rhode 
Island and now a member of the firm of Voorhis, Gmelin and Walker, will 
be constructed on Prospect Terrace. Walker's design was chosen in a 
competition conducted in 1936 by the Rhode Island Roger Williams 
Memorial Association. Horizontal in mass and severe in its simplicity, 
the monument was designed not only as a fitting memorial to the founder 
of the State, but also as a structure appropriate to its commanding loca- 
tion above the city. Leo Friedlander of New York is the collaborating 

The architecture of Rhode Island, and especially that of Providence, 
clings in general to the design developed in the late eighteenth and early 
nineteenth centuries. Modern means of construction have served to 
amplify and enhance these styles, rather than to suggest radical depar- 
tures. This may signify a lack of progress, but at the same time it is a 
testimony to the enduring qualities of an earlier mode of expression. 


THE early history of the arts in Rhode Island has to do with the work of 
craftsmen silversmiths, furniture-makers, carpenter-architects, and 
others who were engaged in supplying the articles needed for conven- 
ience and comfort or desired for ostentation in the home. Aside from 
a relatively small number of existing pieces that have been definitely 
ascribed to individual makers, it is difficult to ascertain how much of this 
early output was produced by residents of the Colony, whether trained 
workers or amateurs, and how much by itinerant craftsmen from other 
communities. Nevertheless, the examples that have lasted through the 
years speak more eloquently of the life of a people creating a new society 
in a virgin country than many a written history. The early colonists of 
this territory were of course English, and their cultural and economic 
development was deeply rooted in the traditions of the mother country. 
Rhode Island, perhaps more definitely than any of the other New England 
States, is even at the present time extremely conscious, in all cultural 
matters, of the Colonial tradition. 

The first art work of exceptional quality in Rhode Island appears in 
the field of silver-smithing and furniture-making, both crafts producing 
masterpieces that are cherished today in homes and museums of the 
State. The silver craft seems to have had more practitioners, and is of 
especial significance because of the relation of its early development to 
the present-day jewelry and silverware industry of Rhode Island. In 
order to obtain a clearer understanding of the reasons underlying the rise 
of these finer crafts, the geographical positions of the communities of 
Providence and Newport must be taken into account for their effect 
upon commerce and the resulting distribution of wealth. Providence, 
situated at the head of Narragansett Bay, was at a distinct disadvantage 
in bidding for the sea trade that found Newport's harbor so easily acces- 
sible. The former community, settled for the attainment of religious 
liberty, nevertheless imposed restrictions on its inhabitants that did not 
allow the latitude of thought and resultant cultural development possible 
in the more cosmopolitan and commercial city of Newport. It naturally 
followed that, up to the time of the Revolutionary War, skilled artisans 
found the atmosphere of the seaport and of the neighboring farming 

150 Rhode Island: The General Background 

community of Narragansett more favorable than Providence for the 
development of crafts. Nevertheless, Joshua Doane, who died in 1753, 
and Saunders Pitman (1732-1808) were important silversmiths of Provi- 
dence in the pre-Revolutionary period. Arnold Collins was probably the 
earliest silversmith of importance in Newport; he executed a seal for the 
Colony in 1690 and later a beaker which was bequeathed by Joseph 
Church in 1711 to the United Congregational Church in Little Compton. 
It is thought that Collins may have been the instructor of Samuel Vernon 
(1683-1737), generally considered the greatest of all Newport craftsmen, 
and one whose work exists today in considerable quantity. Nathaniel 
Kay seems to have been an important patron of Rhode Island silver- 
smiths in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, employing 
a number of the skilled craftsmen of the period. Among other notable 
craftsmen of this era in Rhode Island, mention must be made of Jonathan 
Otis of Newport and Samuel Casey of Narragansett. The former moved 
to Middletown, Connecticut, in 1778 because of conditions arising from 
the war. It is interesting to note that the occupation of Newport by the 
British at this time abruptly terminated the development of that city as 
the foremost community in the Colony, by forcing the rich sea trade and 
the skilled workers to Providence. Among Providence silversmiths of the 
post-Revolutionary period was Jabez Gorham, whose son established the 
industry that has given Rhode Island so prominent a place in the manu- 
facture of silverware. 

Although the furniture-makers of note were not so numerous as the 
silversmiths, the State can claim with pride the Townsends of Newport 
and the still greater Newport craftsman, John Goddard, who is believed 
to have developed his art as an apprentice to the Townsends. As with 
the silversmiths, the favorable conditions for the growth of the arts in 
Newport during the eighteenth century were operative among the 
furniture-makers. Mr. Norman Isham hi an article on 'John Goddard 
and his Work,' in the bulletin of the Rhode Island School of Design for 
April, 1927, reprints an exchange of correspondence between John Goddard 
and Moses Brown of Providence, showing that in 1763 Goddard was en- 
gaged on some articles of furniture for Moses Brown, for a wife of one of 
his brothers, for Governor Stephen Hopkins, and for Jabez Bowen. He 
indicates that the British occupation probably ruined Goddard's business, 
and points to some evidence that the latter attempted to open a branch 
shop in Providence in 1782. Although a considerable variety of furniture 
came out of his shop, he is considered to have reached his peak in the 
making of secretaries and kneehole desks, with block front and shell 

Art and Artists 151 

carving. His work has a distinctive quality that leaves no doubt as to its 

In the profession of painting, Rhode Island claims several illustrious 
figures during the days of the Colony. John Smibert, one of the earliest 
of American portrait painters, was born in Scotland in 1688. He was at 
first a house painter, later working as a coach painter in London and 
making copies for dealers until admitted to the Art Academy. After three 
years of copying Raphael and other old masters in Italy, he came to 
America in 1729 with the Reverend George Berkeley. His painting of the 
Berkeley family, dated 1729, is now at Yale University, and is considered 
one of his best canvases. It is thought that Smibert did most of his work 
in Providence, moving later to Boston, where he died in 1751. 

Robert Feke was another important figure among the early painters 
of Rhode Island. He was born at Oyster Bay, Long Island, and in 1742 
married Eleanor Couzzens at Newport. The important economic and 
cultural development of Newport at this time attracted painters as well 
as craftsmen. Feke, however, worked in Boston, New York, and Phila- 
delphia, as well as in Newport, although his period of painting was a short 
one. He took frequent sea voyages, about which little seems to be known; 
and while the quality of his painting is rated by some as second only to 
the work of Copley, he is strangely enough listed in the records of Newport 
as a mariner. There has been much dispute as to where this artist received 
his training. One of the best-known accounts states that Feke was 
captured by Spaniards during one of his sea voyages, and during his 
internment in Spain studied with some of the contemporary Spanish 
painters. This has never been proved, however, and careful research 
indicates that he was a self-taught genius. Even the place of his death is 
in dispute, as it has been variously reported that he died in Bermuda (in 
1750) and in Barbados. Fortunately, there is no mystery about the fact 
that there are in existence today many fine examples of his work, includ- 
ing a self-portrait and a portrait of his wife, which are in the possession 
of his descendants in Providence, and portraits in the Newport Historical 
Society and the Redwood Library. Portraits of the Bowdoins at Bowdoin 
College, Maine, of Pamela Andrews at the Rhode Island School of Design 
in Providence, and of Charles Apthorpe in Cleveland are among his other 
important works. 

Gilbert Stuart, of course, is the best known of Rhode Island artists, 
because of the distinctive quality of his work and the impressive number 
of portraits of outstanding personages of his time that he has handed down 
to posterity. He was born in the rich farming district of Narragansett in 

152 Rhode Island: The General Background 

1755, the son of a Scotchman who operated the first snuff mill in America. 
Stuart seems to have begun to paint at an early age, for he is known to 
have executed portraits of prominent Newport citizens before coming 
under the influence of Cosmo Alexander and accompanying the latter to 
Scotland. Returning to America two years later, he remained until the 
outbreak of the war; then, because of his Tory sympathies, he departed 
once more for England. There he painted for several years in the studio 
of Benjamin West, and in 1788 had become so much sought after that he 
opened his own studio. He painted many notables among both statesmen 
and fellow artists, his success continuing after his departure for Ireland. 
In the latter country, however, he seems to have fallen hopelessly in debt, 
and he returned to America in 1792. It was at this time that he began his 
long series of portraits of George Washington, of which one hundred and 
twenty-four are listed today. It is estimated that he painted nearly 
a thousand portraits before his death in 1828. The finest and most com- 
prehensive collection of these may be seen today at the Pennsylvania 
Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Other excellent examples will be 
found in Providence at the Rhode Island School of Design and in private 
collections, and in Newport at the Redwood Library. 

One more painter of the Colony should be mentioned before discussing 
the later development of Rhode Island art. Edward G. Malbone, minia- 
ture painter, was born at Newport in 1777, and received his early art 
training from a local scene-painter. He is said to have painted a portrait 
of considerable merit at the age of sixteen, and to have gone to Boston 
at nineteen, where he became the close friend of the painter Washington 
Allston. He worked later in New York and Philadelphia, but because of 
failing health went to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1800. The following 
year in London he painted his largest and most celebrated miniature, 
'The Hours,' now part of the collection of the Providence Athenaeum. 
Charleston was his permanent residence for several years before his death 
in 1807. One hundred and fifty-seven miniatures by him are listed in 
'Early American Portrait Painters in Miniature,' by Theodore Bolton. 
Five small portraits are included in the collection of the Rhode Island 
School of Design, and one is in the possession of Senator Theodore Francis 
Green of Providence. 

It will be seen that Rhode Island in the Colonial period was not a center 
for the training of artists, but that native sons left their local environment 
to seek training in larger American cities or in Europe, and the few self- 
taught artists sought the association of already established painters and 
developed their skill through these contacts. They drifted back to Rhode 

Art and Artists 153 

Island after achieving reputation in their profession, and painted im- 
portant figures among their contemporaries. With the decline of interest 
in cultural matters that accompanied the nineteenth-century industrial 
development, art activity in Rhode Island became more local in char- 
acter; and although some painters still went to Europe to study, no really 
notable figures were produced among them. Interest increased greatly 
in the latter half of the century, as indicated by the founding of the Rhode 
Island School of Design by the Metcalf family in 1877. The Providence 
Art Club was founded in 1880 by a group of landscape and portrait 
painters, and a bond of mutual understanding existed for many years 
between the artist and lay members of the organization. 

The direction of Rhode Island painting at this time was affected by the 
influence of the Barbizon School in landscape work and to a great extent 
by the Munich school in portraiture. Marcus Waterman, George Whit- 
taker, Thomas Robinson, Edward Bannister, Sidney Burleigh, Stacy 
Tolman, and Frank Mathewson were among the prominent artists of this 
period. Of the specialists in portrait painting, James S. Lincoln (1811- 
88), a native of Taunton and first president of the Providence Art Club, 
is credited with more than four thousand portraits, among which those 
of eleven Rhode Island governors now hang in the State House at Provi- 
dence. Hugo Breul, pupil of Lenbach, was a less prolific painter, but 
produced some of the strongest portraits of this period in Rhode Island's 
art history. However, the nature of the times and the trend of American 
life did not foster a virile indigenous art in Rhode Island, any more than 
it did in other regions. Portraiture became too objective, too matter of 
fact and literal, to reach the plane of the Colonial painters, and landscape 
painting went to the other extreme in a too direct expression of sentiment. 
Among artists of the early twentieth century, Charles Walter Stetson 
achieved more recognition outside the State than any other of his group. 
His painting is allegorical, contrasting sharply with the work of his Rhode 
Island contemporaries in its imaginative quality and greater richness of 
color. He is represented in the Corcoran Gallery at Washington, D.C., 
the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania Academy, and the 
Rhode Island School of Design. 

The founding of the Rhode Island School of Design was one of the 
most significant events in the record of Rhode Island art activity during 
the nineteenth century. It established a training center for artists and, 
with a fine arts department as a nucleus, developed other departments to 
train artisans for the various industries of the State. During the last 
twenty-five years, the curriculum of the school has been reconstructed in 

154 Rhode Island: The General Background 

order to give students of the fine arts a deeper understanding of the 
motives and procedures of their creative contemporaries. Courses in the 
applied arts have been readjusted to the changing requirements of in- 

Among the independent painters in Providence, as in other places, there 
has been a considerable cleavage of viewpoint, a natural result of the 
confusing influences that have affected American painting. New move- 
ments are slow to penetrate a tradition-bound community, and the belated 
influence of Impressionism coming in the years just preceding the World 
War resulted in a poetic and colorful type of landscape painting that is 
characteristic of the work of a considerable group at the present day. The 
famous New York Armory Show of 1913 went almost unnoticed in Rhode 
Island, and it was not until the i92o's that broadened instruction at the 
School of Design, together with occasional exhibitions of modern painting 
in Providence, made post-Impressionism an active influence and stimu- 
lated a group of young painters to organize under the name of the Younger 
Rhode Island Artists. Although these young painters have not found wide 
favor in the State, their work has been sincere, individual, and thoughtful, 
and has contributed a valuable counter-balance to conservatism in the 
history of Rhode Island painting. Among artists trained at the School of 
Design who have left the State and attained recognition elsewhere are 
Niles Spencer and Mischa Reznikoff, painters, Robert Nisbet, A.N.A., 
painter and etcher, and Arthur W. Heintzelman, etcher. 

The art projects developed through the Federal Works Progress 
Administration are making an important contribution to contemporary 
art in Rhode Island. A mural painting was executed by Edward Dubuque 
for the children's room in the Providence Public Library; historical com- 
positions for the same institution were painted by Waldo Kaufer, Albert 
Gold, and Joseph McCarthy; and a mural was completed by Gino Conti 
at the Rhode Island State College in Kingston. Some of the most vital 
and enduring work of the W.P.A. group has consisted of independent 
creative expression in the mediums of painting, etching, wood engraving, 
and sculpture, and important examples of this work have appeared in 
national exhibitions at the Modern Museum of New York, in Washing- 
ton, and at the Federal Art Gallery in Boston. The work in Rhode Island 
for the Index of American Design has been carried on under careful 
supervision in a well-organized unit, and many beautifully executed plates 
have been produced that constitute a valuable record of the early crafts. 
Without the encouragement of the W.P.A., it is doubtful if many of the 
younger creative artists could have continued in their profession. 

Art and Artists 155 

Among the State's art collections, those of the Museum of the Rhode 
Island School of Design are the largest and most comprehensive. The 
Pendleton House, a Georgian building erected to house a magnificent 
collection of early furniture, is one of the gems of the Museum, both for 
the rarity and quality of the pieces it contains and for the perfect harmony 
of setting and arrangement. The main building of the Museum also 
contains valuable collections in the field of early American craftsmanship, 
with rare examples of silversmiths' and jewelers' work, furniture by the 
Goddards and Townsends, as well as interesting and often unusual pieces 
of farmhouse furniture. In early American painting, Copley, Stuart, 
Smibert, and Malbone are represented by fine examples, and the some- 
what more primitive art of the period is shown in paintings by Baxter. 
Among later American painters represented are Homer, Sargent, Ryder, 
Thayer, Cassatt, Bellows, Henri, Luks, Dewing, Innis, Davis, Fromkes, 
Doris Lee, Millard Sheets, and Burchfield. The French gallery contains 
a comparatively small group that includes, however, some very choice 
canvases. Among the earlier items are works by Gericault and Delacroix; 
several Monets represent the Impressionist school; and there are ex- 
amples of Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Derain, Gauguin, Modigliani, and 
Survage, among the post-Impressionists. 

The Oriental collection has been expanded greatly by the gift by Mrs. 
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., of eight hundred Japanese prints, and the more 
recent gift by Lucy Aldrich of a rare and superb collection of Japanese 
No Drama costumes and priests' robes. Miss Aldrich was also the donor 
of the eighteenth-century English room, paneled in pine. Another recent 
acquisition is the great wooden Buddha, now enthroned in a shrine in one 
of the corner galleries. Large Chinese paintings on silk and a few terra- 
cotta figures form one of the most impressive groups in the Oriental 
section; while the adjoining gallery houses a magnificent display of 
Persian miniatures and pottery of the early period. In the center of the 
Persian gallery is an elaborately carved wooden tomb that was sent to 
London a few years ago for the great Persian exhibition. Renaissance 
paintings of Italian and Spanish origin form an interesting group; an El 
Greco is outstanding in the small Spanish collection; and among the 
Flemish paintings, a canvas of 'The Money Changers' is almost identical 
with one owned by the Museum of Antwerp, Belgium. Earlier epochs in 
art history are represented in the small but significant Egyptian section, 
with notable examples of Coptic textiles, jewelry, glass, and encaustic 
painting, in the gallery of Greek and Roman sculpture, and in the glazed 
brick lion panel from the walls of Babylon, 

156 Rhode Island: The General Background 

The Annmary Brown Memorial contains a considerable collection of 
paintings that vary greatly in merit and style, many being the products 
of a nineteenth-century school of Italian painting which, however techni- 
cally proficient, was more literary than esthetic in content. Among the 
more notable items to be found here are portraits of the Earl of Chatham 
by Copley, ' An English Officer ' by Sir William Beechey, George Washing- 
ton by Trumbull, Gilbert Stuart by Benjamin West, and John Trumbull 
by James Frothingham, a small allegorical composition and a large full- 
length portrait of the Countess de Waldgrave by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
a copy of the Velasquez portrait of Innocent X, a landscape by Hobbema, 
a Holy Family attributed to Del Sarto and one of the same subject 
attributed to Rubens, a canvas by Ribera, a portrait by Pourbus, two 
very interesting portraits of the German School, and a painting by 
Thomas Couture. Among later American artists represented are Eastman 
Johnson, Daniel Garber, and Gari Melchers. 

Art interest in Westerly centers around the gallery donated by the 
Wilcox family to hold their private collection of paintings. This gallery 
is a part of the Westerly Library building. The collection which it houses 
includes family portraits, landscapes and genre paintings by American 
and European artists, and a portrait attributed to Rembrandt. The 
gallery has stimulated community interest in art by sponsoring exhibitions 
from time to time of work by artists of the southwestern part of the State. 

Also in the southern section of the State is the Gilbert Stuart House, 
birthplace of the artist, now maintained as a museum; and the South 
County Museum in Wickford, containing examples of the various early 
American crafts and folk arts. 

In Newport, the Redwood Library contains items of historical and 
esthetic interest, and the Art Association maintains an active interest in 
contemporary art. A small art school is maintained here, and the gallery 
for exhibition purposes is the largest of its kind in the State. The out- 
standing exhibitions of the association occur during the summer season. 

Although the activities of these various institutions indicate a decided 
interest in the arts throughout the State, this interest is largely conserva- 
tive ; it is inclined to emphasize achievements of the past, and to bestow 
credit only on the art of today that seems outwardly to adhere to accepted 
traditions. The art that is a true and vigorous expression of contemporary 
civilization does not strongly appeal to the average Rhode Islander, and 
its infusion into the local cultural picture is a slow process though 
happily one that is making definite progress. 


LONG before any local press was established in Rhode Island, several 
of the more prominent colonists were writing political pamphlets and 
sermons which were published in England and Boston. Many of these 
works contain illuminating references to Colonial customs and habits, but 
for the most part their contents are interesting only to the student of 
history. The works of such men as Coddington, Gorton, Clarke, and 
William Aspinwall were very influential in their own day; and 'The New 
England Almanac for 1645,' by Christinas Ludowic, the first Rhode 
Islander to write an almanac, undoubtedly was of contemporary im- 
portance. Outstanding among these early works is 'The Key into the 
Language of America,' by Roger Williams, which is still valuable as 
a phrase book of Indian terms. Each one of its thirty- two chapters is 
interspersed with the author's observations on conduct and morals, and 
the chapters end with stanzas of quaint verse. The following lines are 
typical of this interesting book, which is the most good-natured and un- 
controversial work from Williams' pen: 

God gives them sleep on Ground, on Straw, on Sedgie Mats or Board 
When English Softest Beds of Downe, Sometimes no Sleep Afford. 
I have Knowne them leave their House and Mat, to lodge a Friend or Stranger 
When Jews and Christians oft have sent Christ Jesus to the Manger. 

The next important literary works date from the eighteenth century. 
Dean Berkeley arrived at Newport in 1729, and while residing in Middle- 
town wrote his famous poem ( On the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learn- 
ing in America,' which contains the oft-quoted line, * Westward the course 
of empire takes its way!' While in Middletown the worthy Dean also 
wrote ' Alciphron,' which is a commentary on English society, the customs 
of the mother country being described as if they were flourishing in the 
Rhode Island scene. In 1726, Benjamin Franklin's brother James sought 
refuge in Newport from religious and civil persecution in Massachusetts. 
He established the first press in Rhode Island, and in the year of his 
arrival published 'Poor Robin's Almanac.' The first newspaper in the 

158 Rhode Island: The General Background 

Colony, the Rhode Island Gazette, came from his press on September 27, 
1732; it failed after seven months, however, because of lack of support. 
From the same press in 1758, Franklin's son, also named James, issued 
the second Rhode Island newspaper, the Newport Mercury. This paper 
has been published continuously ever since, except for a short time during 
the Revolution while the British were in Newport. The type for the 
Mercury was a gift to the younger James Franklin from his famous uncle, 
Benjamin. Besides news and advertising, the Mercury often contained 
essays and poems. 

John Maylem, a poet often confused with his father of the same name, 
was born in 1739 and spent his boyhood in Newport. He enlisted in the 
army in 1756, and from his experiences in the French and Indian War he 
drew material for two poems published in Boston in 1758, 'The Conquest 
of Louisburg' and 'Gallic Perfidy.' The former was reprinted in New- 
port in 1775; and Joseph Brown Ladd, a poet of the next generation, 
mentions Maylem's continued popularity. 

The Providence Gazette and Country Journal was first published in 1762 
by William Goddard, who had established in that year the pioneer press 
of Providence. Stephen Hopkins often contributed to the Gazette, which 
came to have a broad influence in the pre-Revolutionary period. Its 
publication was suspended for fifteen months from May n, 1765, because 
of the Stamp Act and poor support. John Carter took over the Goddard 
press and the Gazette in 1 768. The typographical accuracy of his printing 
has received much praise. 

The presses in Newport and Providence were active in the cause of the 
Revolution. Solomon Southwick, who took over the Franklin press in 
Newport in 1768, wrote and published 'Join or Die,' advocating the union 
of the American Colonies. He continued his agitation against the British 
in the Mercury until, on the approach of their army of occupation, he had 
to put his family in a small boat and flee from the city. For the most part, 
the Revolutionary literature in Rhode Island, as in the other Colonies, 
was of a political nature and usually in pamphlet form. 

The next important newspaper to be established was the Providence 
Journal (1820). Its conservative and well-balanced editorials have since 
been of great influence on the social and civic development of the State. 
From 1820 to the end of the nineteenth century, sixteen other papers were 
founded which have continued to the present time. Among these the more 
important are: the Newport News (1846), the Narragansett Times (1855), 
the Evening Bulletin (1863), the Pawtucket Times (1885), the Newport 
Herald (1892), the Woonsocket Call (1892), the Pawtuxet Valley Times 

Literature and Journalism 159 

(1892), the Westerly Sun (1892), and the Cranston News (1895). Along 
with the. Providence Journal and the Evening Bulletin, the Star-Tribune 
is now one of the State's outstanding newspapers. It is a strongly Demo- 
cratic organ. The Star-Tribune is the result of several mergers and changes 
in management dating back to the Providence Evening News (1891). In 
1929, the paper became the News-Tribune ; it acquired its present name in 
March, 1937. 

Joseph Brown Ladd, born in Newport in 1764, was a promising romantic 
poet when he lost his life in a duel in Charleston, South Carolina, at the 
age of twenty-two. As a ten-year-old boy in Newport, he gained public 
attention by satirizing quack doctors in humorous verse. His father felt 
obliged to stop the boy's work in a Newport printing office when he 
published a humorous ballad about a generally respected minister, the 
Reverend Doctor Hopkins. Ladd depicted many Rhode Island scenes in 
his 'Poems of Arouet,' which were published in Charleston in 1786. His 
daring criticism of Samuel Johnson and his work on Ossian were remark- 
able considering his youth. 

Rivaling the well-known 'Journey from Boston to New York,' by 
Madame Knight, is the story told in the journal of Patience Greene of 
North Kingstown. Her account begins in 1771, and traces the course of 
her religiously inspired travels throughout the Colonies, Great Britain, 
and Ireland. While in England she tried, unsuccessfully, to secure an 
audience with King George III, whom she later implored by letter to use 
his influence to mitigate the sufferings of African slaves in America. 

In 1 80 1, Paul Allen of Providence published a volume of verse. He 
edited in 1814 the 'History of the Expedition under the Command of 
Captains Lewis and Clark.' Allen's long poem, 'Noah,' was published 
in 1821 after John Neal had cut it to about one-fifth its original length. 
It has been said that 'the poem in its primeval proportions must have 
been peculiarly suggestive in quality and quantity, as well as title, of 
the events it celebrates.' Allen's short poems often show unusual merit, 
as in the case of his lines ' On Seeing a Grave Without a Stone ' : 

Alas! no scutcheon'd marble here displays, 
In long-drawn eulogies, thy name and birth; 

Such servile homage, adulation pays 
To a moldering clod of common earth. 

The yellow cowslip and the violet blue, 

Pallid daisy growing by thy side, 
Are all, poor peasant, that remains to you; 

But nature gives what haughty man denied. 

160 Rhode Island: The General Background 

Albert Gorton Greene, born in Providence in 1802, wrote at sixteen the 
popular humorous poem 'Old Grimes.' He also edited Captain Thomas 
Dring's * Recollections of the Jersey Prison-Ship.' His large collection of 
literary works is now embodied in the Harris Collection of American 
Poetry at Brown University. 

Hezekiah Butterworth, born in Warren in 1839, was for twenty-four 
years editor of the Youth's Companion. He wrote an interesting series of 
travel stories for young people, 'Zigzag Journeys,' that has been published 
in seventeen volumes. 

While in the diplomatic service in Berlin in 1836, Henry Wheaton 
(1785-1848) published the first edition of his famous 'Elements of Inter- 
national Law.' Wheaton was born in Providence; he graduated from 
Brown University at sixteen years of age, and three years later was ad- 
mitted to the bar. His works on Scandinavian subjects, particularly his 
'History of the Northmen,' brought him international fame, and in 1830 
he was elected to both the Scandinavian and the Icelandic Literary So- 
cieties. As a younger man, he was reporter for the United States Supreme 
Court between 1816 and 1828, and his notes in connection with that work 
earned the praise of Daniel Webster. 

Rhode Island historians have, for the most part, written about their 
own State rather than about American history in general. Wilkins 
Updike's 'History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett ' (1847) is 
a history of the entire Narragansett Country; and his 'Memoirs of the 
Rhode Island Bar' (1842) is recognized as a valuable contribution to 
the chronicles of the State. The first volume of Samuel Greene Arnold's 
'History of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations' was published in 
1859, and was followed in the next year by a second volume. Arnold 
traces the development of Rhode Island from its founding in 1636 to its 
adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1 790. His work is very detailed, 
and suffers only from being presented entirely in chronological order, 
without separate treatment of important social and economic topics. 

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, a number of impor- 
tant literary persons, not native to Rhode Island, visited the State and 
made mention of it in their work. Early in his career, William Cullen 
Bryant wrote a humorous 'Meditation on Rhode Island Coal.' John 
Greenleaf Whittier was close in spirit to the Rhode Island Quakers, and 
he assisted the Rhode Island abolitionists; his early poems 'Mogg 
Megone' and 'The Bridal of Pennacook' show the influence of Narra- 
gansett legends and tradition. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow spent 
several summers in Rhode Island, and one of his poems immortalizes the 

Literature and Journalism 161 

skeleton in armor, found in near-by Massachusetts, which some people have 
associated with the Norsemen and the Old Stone Mill at Newport. 

Edgar Allan Poe courted the Providence poetess, Sarah Helen Whit- 
man, in her mother's house on Benefit Street and in the shady alcoves of 
the Athenaeum. His suit was not successful, however. Some critics hold 
that Poe's famous lyric ' Annabel Lee ' owes its inspiration to Mrs. Whit- 
man. Her document defending him, 'Edgar Poe and His Critics,' created 
quite a controversy. She published 'Hours of Life and Other Poems' in 
1853, and another volume, 'Poems,' appeared posthumously. 

While living in Newport, Julia Ward Howe wrote poetry and sermons, 
and she often extended her hospitality to some of the most famous authors 
of the day; on one occasion, Whittier talked himself hoarse at her dinner 
table, and was obliged to spend the next day in almost complete silence. 
Bret Harte maintained a summer home in Rhode Island for five years, 
and among his poems on Rhode Island subjects are ' A Newport Romance ' 
and 'A Grey-port Legend, 1797.' In 'Ships' he revived the old legend of 
a deserted ship, which drifted into Newport Harbor and then was blown 
out to sea, never to be heard of again. 

Early in the nineteenth century, Mrs. Catherine R. Williams, a native 
of Providence, returned to Rhode Island from New York. Her 'Original 
Poems,' published in 1828, were immediately successful, and she wrote 
several volumes of biographical and historical fiction. Most of the ma- 
terial in her work was drawn from Rhode Island, and she was a well- 
known literary figure until she died in 1872, at more than eighty years of 

George William Curtis was born in 1824 in Providence. Although much 
of his writing was concerned with contemporary problems of politics and 
slavery, the essays in his 'Potiphar Papers' are of permanent charm. 
'Prue and I,' published in 1855, has a Rhode Island background, and was 
written in the Irving tradition. Curtis became editor of Harper's Weekly 
in the critical Civil War period, and his editorials in 'The Easy Chair' 
department were a notable feature of that magazine for many years. 
Augustus Hoppin (1828-96), writer as well as illustrator, published 
'Hay Fever' and 'Two Compton Boys,' both dealing with Rhode Island 

Three descendants of Thomas Hazard, who was one of the founders of 
Newport, have been prominent for their writings on old South County. 
Thomas Robinson Hazard (1797-1886), known as 'Shepherd Tom' be- 
cause of his interest in sheep-raising, published in 1879 his 'Recollections 
of Olden Times,' and in 1882 a collection of discourses called the ' Jonny 

162 Rhode Island: The General Background 

Cake Papers,' containing some delightful pictures of Rhode Island. His 
brother, Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-88), wrote on philosophical 
subjects, and corresponded with John Stuart Mill concerning the freedom 
of the will. His ' Language : Its Connexion with the Present Condition and 
Future Prospects of Man ' may have been the outcome of discussions he 
had with Sarah Helen Whitman. Caroline Hazard, president of Wellesley 
College 1899-1910, has written biography and poetry, and she still con- 
tributes a bi-weekly column to the Providence Journal. She edited 
'Nailer Tom's Diary,' or the journal of Thomas Benjamin Hazard (1778- 
1840), and Esther Bernon Carpenter's 'South County Studies/ which 
were first printed as a series of sketches in the Providence Journal. 

Harry Lyman Koopman came to the Brown University Library in 1893 ; 
besides establishing a reputation as one of the foremost bibliographers of 
the country, he has written a number of poems. Early in the twentieth 
century, Owen Wister, already famous for his Western novel 'The Vir- 
ginian' and his biography of Theodore Roosevelt, built a summer home 
in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, and continued to write there. Fanny 
Purdy Palmer (1839-1923) revived in many of her poems old legends and 
traditions of the State; she published in 1893 a bibliography of Rhode 
Island literary women, starting with 1720. Sara F. Hopkins was a pioneer 
newspaper woman who did her first work for the Providence Journal in 
1885; between that time and her death in 1928, she contributed to 
Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly, and other leading magazines. Joseph 
B. Bishop (1847-1928), born in East Providence, wrote on political science 
and economics; in addition, he was the author of an excellent biography 
of Theodore Roosevelt, and the editor of 'Theodore Roosevelt's Letters 
to His Children/ Edna Adelaide Brown began to write her well-known 
books for children after 1911. Although Annie S. Peck (1850-1935) won 
renown in 1908 for her ascent of the Peruvian mountain later named for 
her, she also became known for her books on South America, particularly 
'The South American Tour.' Early in 1924, Percy Marks published 'The 
Plastic Age,' a realistic novel of American college life which created a 
storm of criticism, protest, and praise. Although Maud Howe Elliott 
has published a number of other books, it was the biography of her 
mother, Julia Ward Howe, written in collaboration with Laura E. 
Richards, which brought her the widest renown. The book was awarded 
a Pulitzer Prize in 1917. Mrs. Elliott was born in Boston in 1854, and has 
lived in Newport for many years. 

A number of contemporary Rhode Islanders have done distinguished 
work in various fields. Lawrence C. Wroth has given new life to such 

Literature and Journalism 163 

Colonial figures as William Parks, Abel Buell, John Maylem, and others. 
The Reverend Urban Nagle has written a prize- winning play, ' Barter/ 
and other plays on religious subjects. In 1929, Walter S. Ball, of the 
Providence Journal, won a prize offered by Harper and Brothers and the 
American Girl magazine for the best book of fiction for girls; this book, 
' Carmella Commands,' depicts many scenes familiar to Providence folk. 
Leonard Bacon has written some fine poetry, has collaborated with others 
in a number of distinguished translations, and is known for his volumes of 
satiric verse, 'Ph.D.'s' and ' Guinea Fowl.' 

At least three authors now living 'down shore' in Rhode Island have 
supplemented distinguished magazine contributions with literary work in 
more lasting form. Albert Jay Nock has published several volumes of 
essays and a sympathetic biography of Thomas Jefferson. Henry W. 
Boynton, essayist and critic, has edited a number of English classics. 
Richard Washburn Child, ambassador to Italy and one-time editor of 
Cottier's Weekly, has written much fiction and collaborated with Mussolini 
on the latter's autobiography. 

Samuel Rogers (born at Newport in 1894, and graduated from Brown 
University in 1915) achieved fame in 1934 with the publication of his 
Atlantic Monthly prize novel, 'Dusk at the Grove'; the setting of this 
novel is Portsmouth, Rhode Island. S. Foster Damon, a professor in the 
English Department of Brown University, is known for his poetry, 
particularly his small volume 'Astrolabe,' and for his biographies of 
Thomas Holley Chivers, William Blake, and Amy Lowell. Christopher 
La Farge's 'Hoxie Sells His Acres' is a novel in verse which attracted 
considerable notice in 1934; and Oliver La Farge, Christopher's younger 
brother, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1929 for his novel, 'Laughing Boy.' 
Oliver La Farge's interest in Rhode Island and the sea is shown in 'Long 
Pennant,' a novel about the Rhode Island privateers in the War of 1812. 

Vincent McHugh, a native of the section of Providence called Fox 
Point, has received widespread acclaim for his recent novel 'Caleb 
Catlum's America.' His first novel 'Touch Me Not' (1930), was auto- 
biographical, covering his experiences while working at Rocky Point, 
a local summer resort. Winfield Townley Scott and Willis H. Gerry 
founded in 1931 and printed in Providence the poetry magazine Smoke. 
Scott has published a volume of verse, 'Biography for Traman.' 

Although it cannot be claimed that Rhode Island was the home of any 
great school of authors, the State has nevertheless been the birthplace or 
the adopted residence of many prominent writers, and through its living 
tradition of liberty of thought and conscience it has encouraged and 
influenced the art of literature in the United States. 


IN THE early Colonial days there was virtually no music in the modern 
sense. All of New England felt the Puritan tradition, which frowned upon 
any musical expression other than the chanting of psalms during Sabbath 
services. So far as our records go, it was not until 1759, when Francis 
Hopkinson of Pennsylvania wrote 'My Days Have Been so Wondrous 
Free,' that an original piece of music was composed by an American. The 
first evidence of musical activity in Rhode Island is an advertisement in 
the Providence Gazette and Country Journal of July 30, 1768, announcing 
a concert of instrumental music 'under the Direction of MR. DAWSON, 
who, by particular Desire, will present the Company with a HORNPIPE ; 
and MR. TIOLI will perform a TAMBURIN DANCE, in the Italian 
Taste/ Another advertisement, appearing September 16, 1769, announces 
a 'reading' of 'The Beggar's Opera' in which 'All the songs will be sung.' 
Both performances were held in 'Mr. Hacker's public room,' and the 
admission fee was '$1.00 for a gentleman with lady.' In the United States 
Chronicle (Providence) of May 27, 1784, is an advertisement in which 
' MR. HIWILL informs the young Ladies and Gentlemen of this Town, 
That he has opened a SCHOOL of INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC.' The 
instruments taught were, for the men, ' the German Flute, Clarinet, Bas- 
soon, &"c. &(;.,' and for the ladies, the 'Guittar.' On April 21, 1785, John 
Graft and William Owen announced the opening of a music school for 
gentlemen, where was taught the violin, German flute, hautboy, clarinet, 
and bassoon. 

The first composer to visit Rhode Island was a Connecticut man, 
Andrew Law (1748-1821), who came here as a student at Rhode Island 
College (later Brown University). Before entering college at the late age 
of twenty-four, he had already earned a reputation in New England as 
a psalmodist, having compiled ' A Select Number of Plain Tunes Adapted 
to Congregational Worship,' which included some of his own composi- 
tions. He was active in promoting church music during his three years' 
stay in Providence. His subsequent career, in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, 
and elsewhere, was devoted to the church, with music as an avocation. 
His collection of ' Essays on Music ' was the first critical work of its kind 
in the country, and in 1778-79 he published two compilations which en- 

Music 165 

joyed wide usage ' Select Harmony ' and ' Collection of Best Tunes and 
Anthems.' Many of the compositions in these volumes were from his own 
pen, and his ' Archdale ' was one of the popular tunes of his day. 

John L. Berkenhead was the State's first resident musician of any im- 
portance. A blind Englishman who had come to Boston in 1795, he was 
the organist at Newport's Trinity Church from 1796 to 1804. In addition 
to his church work, he gave concerts throughout New England on both 
organ and piano, and his playing of his own composition, 'The Demolition 
of the Bastile/ for piano forte or harpsichord, was a musical event. Among 
his other compositions were a number of instrumental and choral works. 

Berkenhead was the tutor of Oliver Shaw (1779-1848), a composer of 
relatively high importance. Shaw had been blinded in one eye as a child, 
and as a youth pursuing a sailor's career he ruined the sight of his re- 
maining eye (already weakened by yellow fever) by constant use of the 
sextant. Having decided upon music as a possible career, he sought out 
Berkenhead, from whom he took lessons in piano and organ. From New- 
port he went to Boston, where he studied the oboe with the famous 
Graupner, and the clarinet with Granger. Then, in 1807, he came to 
Providence, remaining there until his death forty-one years later. His first 
publication, 'For the Gentlemen: A favourite selection of instrumental 
Music,' was issued at Dedham in the year of his arrival in Rhode Island. 

Two years after coming to Providence, Shaw was appointed organist 
of the First Congregational Church; and shortly afterward, he worked 
with a group of interested musicians in founding the Psallonian Society 
'for the purpose of improving themselves in the knowledge and practice of 
sacred music and inculcating a more correct taste in the choice and per- 
formance of it.' One of the first members of this group was Thomas Smith 
Webb, a famous authority on Masonic ritual, who later went to Boston 
and helped to found the Handel and Haydn Society there. The Psallonian 
group lasted for twenty-three years and gave thirty-one formal concerts. 

Shaw's compositions were numerous. Rhode Island geography and 
history, and even some of the Providence streets, are celebrated in them. 
Many of his sacred songs were widely acclaimed, and two of his works, 
' Mary's Tears ' and ' All things bright and fair are thine,' were included in 
a Handel and Haydn Society concert in Boston on July 5, 1817, which was 
attended by President Monroe. 

In the year of Shaw's death, 1848, musical education was introduced 
into the Providence public schools. By the middle nineteenth century, 
music had become a popular form of entertainment. Shaw was an im- 
portant figure, but he was still only part of a movement. He had his 

1 66 Rhode Island: The General Background 

contemporaries and his successors. During the late i83o's, when his 
establishment at No. 70 Westminster Street was thriving, there was an- 
other publisher diagonally across the street, at No. 33. This was the 
house of S. T. Thurber, whose publications included some songs by 
Richard B. Taylor, the organist of St. John's Episcopal Church. 

There was also a prolific composer named Francis H. Brown, who 
advertised himself as 'Teacher of the Piano and English Ballad Singing.' 
The publication dates on his surviving works extended from 1843 to 1866; 
but since the earlier date occurs on two second editions, he must at that 
time have been past the beginner's stage. A cover announcement on his 
'Barney Greene Quickstep* (1849) states that the piece was played in 
Providence in 1842 by the Bristol Band. 

Brown was not outstandingly important, but he is typical of the middle 
years of the nineteenth century. His innumerable works were published 
in both Providence and Boston. Whatever State may claim him as 
a native or resident, he provided Rhode Islanders with a great deal of 
sprightly music during the long period when music, having stepped outside 
the church, was trying to find itself. 

In 1851, Jenny Lind gave a recital in Providence, and Colonel William 
C. Ross earned the dubious distinction of being the highest bidder, at 
$653, for the best seat in the house. 

During this period there was a movement toward secular choral music. 
In 1856, a group of men from various church choirs was organized by 
William Whitaker to form the Central Glee Club, for the purpose of 
singing at political meetings. The club gained a wide reputation, and 
gave many local and out-of-State concerts. Some of the members lost 
their lives in the Civil War, and in 1872 the survivors reorganized as the 
First Light Infantry Glee Club, which lasted for fifteen years and gave 
concerts as far distant as Albany, New York. Connected with the latter 
organization, as leader or accompanist, was Eben Kelley, organist of the 
First Congregational Church, composer, founder of the Chopin Club 
(1879), and an active sponsor of music in Providence for more than 
thirty years. Another musical society, known as the Providence Lieder- 
kranz, was founded in 1857, but had a short life and was supplanted by 
the Einklang Singing Society, which lasted well into the twentieth 

The brass band era in America began in the i86o's and culminated in 
the splendid organization formed by John Philip Sousa. Rhode Island, 
for thirty-three years the home of David Wallis Reeves, can claim one of 
the best bands in the country, for Reeves was the direct precursor of 

Music 167 

Sousa, and the ' March King' has said of him: 'He made me everything 
I am ... I would gladly give up all I have won if only I might have written 
the "Second Regiment" march. I well may call him the father of band 
music in America.' Reeves, a famous young cornet virtuoso and con- 
ductor of Owego, New York, was summoned to Providence in 1866 to 
take over an already honorable organization, the American Brass Band. 
This group had been founded in 1825 as the Providence Brass Band, had 
served in the Civil War, and had entertained the people of Rhode Island 
and New England under the leadership of its first conductor, Joseph C. 
Greene, for nearly forty years. 

Reeves had been exposed to, but not seriously infected with, the ex- 
travagant traditions of Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, whose ideas of bigness 
would have staggered Hollywood. This Barnum of band music had 
traveled about the country for several years after the Civil War pre- 
senting 'Peace Jubilees.' He once fired cannon for drum beats; and in 
his last concert on the grand scale, he assembled such an overwhelming 
horde of players and singers that the music collapsed of its own weight. 
Reeves developed Gilmore's few virtues. He retained the stirring qual- 
ities of band music, but eliminated its sensationalism. He used a large 
group, but for blaring melody and rudimentary accompaniment he sub- 
stituted orchestral harmony and counterpoint, adapting them to the 
brass instruments. He had a genius for the march tune, a form as difficult 
as it is simple, and composed more than a hundred of them. The ' Sec- 
ond Connecticut,' which Sousa envied, is still famous wherever band 
music is played. 

Reeves' American Band, as it was called, was a well-loved Rhode 
Island institution for more than thirty years. Its repertoire included not 
only marches, but also quicksteps and dance tunes. At the opening of 
the Park Garden in Providence, on June 24, 1878, Reeves presented 
Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, using an actual boat for the 
stage. The performance was a great success, and Reeves received a letter 
of commendation from Sir Arthur Sullivan. A year later at the same 
place he presented his own operetta, The Ambassador's Daughter, chang- 
ing the ship into a junk to fit the Chinese locale. During 1892-93 he took 
a leave of absence from Providence and conducted Gilmore's Twenty- 
Second New York Regiment Band at the World's Fair in Chicago and 
the expositions at Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. The tour enhanced his 
already Nation-wide reputation, and on his return to Providence he was 
given a great official reception, led by Governor D. Russell Brown and 
Adjutant-General Dyer. On March 8, 1900, he died at the age of sixty- 

168 Rhode Island : The General Background 

two. The importance of his band has overshadowed the fact that in the 
iSyo's he helped to organize the first Providence Symphony Orchestra. 

From Reeves' coming to the end of the century there was a great 
expansion in musical activities of all kinds. In 1879 the Chopin Club 
and the Mendelssohn Choral Society were founded; and in 1881 Jules 
Jordan founded the Arion Club. The Boston Symphony Orchestra began 
its unbroken series of Providence concerts in 1882. In 1885, the Rhode 
Island Music Association was founded, to be reorganized in 1895 as the 
Providence Music Teachers' Association ; and the following year saw the 
formation of the St. Cecilia Choral Union and the Rhode Island Choral 
Association, the latter under the occasional leadership of Carl Zerrahn, 
the famous conductor of the Worcester County Festivals. At this time 
also was founded the short-lived Providence Singing Society. In 1895, 
Hans Schneider, who had already founded a piano school in Providence, 
began a series of popular lectures on music, and in the same year Oscar 
Ekeburg founded the Verdandi Male Chorus, which later became affiliated 
with the American Union of Swedish Singers and has distinguished itself 
in concerts throughout the country. The Providence Symphony Orches- 
tra, revived for a short period in the early i89o's, was supplanted in 
1899 by the Providence Philharmonic Orchestra, which lasted only a 
year. Of the above groups, the Chopin Club and the Verdandi Male 
Chorus still survive. 

A younger contemporary and one-time pupil of Reeves, who survived 
him by twenty-seven years, was Jules Jordan. Born in 1850 of Rhode 
Island parents who had moved to Willimantic, Connecticut, he came to 
Providence at the age of eighteen. Already an amateur singer, he had not 
yet considered music as a career, and had become a telegraph operator. At 
Rocky Point, his first station, he heard the nightly concerts of Reeves' 
American Band and became so interested that he bought a cornet and 
took lessons from the bandmaster. Transferred to Providence in the fall, 
he was discovered as a promising tenor and taken into Grace Church 
choir, where he remained as soloist and later as director, for more than 
twenty years. During the first winter he terminated his cornet lessons, 
much to Reeves' dismay, and took up the piano. In 1870 he met his 
future vocal teacher, George L. Osgood, at a summer school of music 
held in East Greenwich. By the end of his second year in Providence, 
Jordan was able to earn enough through his music to give up telegraphy; 
and thus began a long and full career in the promotion of the finest 
vocal and choral music. 

Jordan took the leading part in two important American premieres: 

Music 169 

Berlioz* * Damnation of Faust,' produced in 1880 at Steinway Hall, New 
York, under the direction of Leopold Damrosch, by the New York 
Oratorio Society in conjunction with the New York Arion Society and 
the Philharmonic Orchestra; and Gounod's 'Redemption,' produced in 
Boston in 1882 by the Boston Oratorio Society. 

In a historical sense, the creation of the Arion Club was Jordan's most 
important contribution to Rhode Island music. The society was active for 
more than forty years, and its concerts numbered well over one hundred 
and fifty. It performed most of the great choral works: Haydn's 'Crea- 
tion/ Mendelssohn's 'Elijah/ Handel's 'Messiah/ Franck's 'The Beati- 
tudes/ and many lesser ones; and concert arrangements of such operas as 
Gounod's 'Faust' and 'Romeo and Juliet/ Verdi's 'Aida' and 'Rigoletto/ 
Wagner's 'Flying Dutchman/ 'Tannhauser/ and 'Lohengrin/ and Saint- 
Saens' 'Samson and Delilah.' A list of its guest artists included many 
of the famous singers of the day. 

Jordan has many musical works to his credit, published by Schirmer 
of New York and Arthur P. Schmidt of Boston. He was largely self- 
taught as a composer, but in later years studied counterpoint under 
Percy Goetschius. His most pretentious work, for which he wrote both 
music and libretto, was a romantic opera, 'Rip Van Winkle.' Among his 
better-known choral works are musical settings for several popular poems 
'Barbara Frietchie/ 'Ring Out, Wild Bells/ and the 'Battle Hymn of 
the Republic.' His death occurred in March, 1927. 

The activities of Jordan and the Arion Club cover a significant period 
of musical development in America, and Rhode Island shared in this 
activity with great interest. In 1901 the MacDowell and Schubert Clubs 
were founded in Providence, and the St. Cecilia Opera Company in 
Woonsocket; in 1903 Hans Schneider organized his Piano Teachers' 
Institute. The Providence Music Association, a sponsoring organization 
for concerts by world-famous artists, was formed in 1904 the same 
year in which the several groups joined together as the State Federation 
of Music Clubs and became affiliated with the then new National Federa- 
tion. The founding of the Monday Morning Musical Club took place in 
1905, the Chaminade Club was organized in 1906. In 1911 the University 
Glee Club was founded by Berrick Schloss, its present director. The 
Mendelssohn Club also began in 1911. A season's tentative program, 
picked at random from the files of the Providence Journal (October 20, 
1912), contains a list of more than thirty events: concerts and recitals by 
local artists and organizations, by Zimbalist, Schumann-Heink, and 
Kreisler, and a lecture by Mrs. Edward MacDowell. 

1 70 Rhode Island : The General Background 

No broad distinction can be drawn between Rhode Island's musical 
activities at the turn of the century and at the present time. The changes 
have been natural developments. Music publishing, which had been 
gravitating toward New York for many years, virtually ceased here after 
the World War. Reeves' American Band still exists as a chartered organ- 
ization, but it did not long remain intact after the leader's death. The 
present group, consisting of some of the original members, under the 
baton of Frank Walberg, still plays at Brown University commencements 
and on other occasions. Though the faithful still look forward to a re- 
vived group as glorious as the first, the day of a possible renascence seems 
past, for the brass band as a great popular institution has already receded 
into history. 

Interest in symphonic music has produced a succession of Providence 
Symphony Orchestras. At least three were organized, unsuccessfully, in 
the nineteenth century. The present orchestra, founded in 1932 with 
Wasili Leps as conductor, is the third in the twentieth century and its 
destiny seems well favored. Besides the credit due the conductor, the 
players, and the guest artists (of Rhode Island talent only), there is also 
the factor of increased public acceptance of symphonic music. The 
orchestra, now in its fifth year, has maintained a regular schedule of 
winter concerts in Providence, with occasional children's concerts and 
performances elsewhere. 

Organizations have continued to increase, many with an eye to the 
younger generation. The Chaminade Club has created three satellites: 
the Chaminade Young Artists' Club, the Chaminade Junior, and the 
Chaminade Juvenile Clubs; the Chopin Club has created two, and others 
are the Blackstone Valley Junior Music Club, the Newport Junior Music 
Club, the Mozart Club of Newport, the Motus Junior Music Club of 
Providence, and the Octave Club. There is an orchestra of young people 
at Nickerson House, and a Crawford Allen Hospital Junior Club, where 
music is taught for its therapeutic as well as recreational value. 

Other adult organizations have been founded the Brahms Club, the 
Gould wood Choir, the Henschel Club, the Mnemosyne Society of Fine 
Arts, the Music Club of Newport, the Rhode Island Music Educators' 
Association, the Providence Treble Choral Club, the Rhode Island Band- 
masters' Association, and the Westerly Music Club. There are alto- 
gether twenty-seven musical clubs in the State, with an aggregate mem- 
bership (youngsters included) exceeding 1400. Most of these organiza- 
tions have a definite and constructive policy. The Chaminade and Mon- 
day Morning Clubs both have special funds available for the education 

Music 171 

of deserving students, and both are among the guarantors of the Provi- 
dence and Boston Symphony Orchestras. The Monday Morning Club 
also supports the Elodie Farnum Memorial Library in the Rochambeau 
Branch of the Providence Public Library, the Helen Tyler Grant Lending 
Library of music at the club's studio, and the Franklin Holding Memorial 
Collection of chamber music. To the Providence Public Library it has 
contributed under its own name a sound-proofed alcove and a piano. 
The Henschel Club, in its seasonal recitals, affords young Rhode Island 
artists the opportunity to appear professionally. All of the clubs con- 
tribute to the State Federation's funds for conducting contests and 
awarding scholarships. 

The federation's membership, relatively small, must necessarily ex- 
clude the hundreds of grade and high school students actively engaged 
in their school organizations. Since the place of music in schools is de- 
termined by the separate city and town governments rather than by the 
State, no official enrollment figures are available. It may be stated 
generally, however, that music is taught in every school, and that organ- 
izations exist everywhere, from simple choral groups to large bands and 
orchestras. The Rhode Island High School Music Festival, combining 
performances by choral groups, bands, and orchestras, has been an annual 
spring event since the i92o's; and in the annual contests between all the 
high school bands of New England, the first prize has been awarded 
several times to the Pawtucket High School. 

In 1935, upon the recommendation of Governor Green, the State 
granted the Department of Education a $10,000 appropriation for the 
purpose of giving Rhode Islanders free access to good music. This is 
probably the only fund of its kind in the United States. Owing to this 
fund, well-received summer concerts by bands and by the Rhode Island 
Civic Symphony Orchestra have been given at Newport, Providence, 
Warwick, North Kingstown, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket. 

Many substantial names appear in the record of Rhode Island's later 
musical activities. George Spink (1873-1936), a native of Pawtucket, 
was associated in New York with Raymond Hitchcock, Blanche Ring, 
Nora Bayes, and Eva Tanguay, for whom he wrote many songs. During 
the war he composed two musical comedies successfully produced in 
Europe for the American soldiers, 'Home Again' and 'Mopping Up'; 
and his two-act romantic opera, 'The Legend of Hannah Robinson,' was 
produced in 1933 by the Gilbert Stuart Memorial Association at the 
Robinson homestead in North Kingstown. 

Hugh F. MacColl has been active as a composer and sponsor of music 

172 Rhode Island: The General Background 

in Rhode Island for more than a quarter of a century. Bora in Pawtucket 
in 1879, ne attended Harvard, studying composition and theory under 
Converse and Spalding. He has composed music for solo voice, chorus, 
piano, two pianos, piano and violin, trio, string quartet, piano and 
orchestra, and orchestra. Most of his works have been published, and 
although the first performances usually take place in Providence, his 
'Suite for Orchestra' (in the form of variations) was introduced at 
Rochester, New York, in 1936, by Howard Hanson and the Rochester 
Civic Orchestra. His 'Arabs' (1932) has been played by the Boston 
Symphony Orchestra both in Providence and in New York. He has 
written original works for the Clavier Ensemble and the University Glee 

Elmer S. Hosmer, professor of music at the Rhode Island College of 
Education since 1924, has become known for his choral works, principally 
'Columbus' and 'Pilgrims of 1620.' Born in Massachusetts in 1862, he 
has spent many years in Rhode Island, having been principal of the 
Pawtucket High School for a long period before assuming his present 

The name of John B. Archer is always associated with the Providence 
Festival Chorus, which was organized in 1924 for the dedication of the 
Benedict Monument to Music at Roger Williams Park. After long ex- 
perience as organist and choirmaster, and as song-leader during the war, 
Mr. Archer came to Providence in 1920 as organist of the Beneficent 
Congregational Church. The Festival Chorus, which has been under his 
direction since its beginning, has given more than 24 semi-annual concerts 
one in June at the Benedict Monument, one in the winter at a Provi- 
dence theater or the Rhode Island Auditorium. The Goldman Band of 
New York is the regular accompanist to the chorus in its June concerts, 
and there is always a celebrated guest singer or instrumentalist. 

Local church organists, past and present, have added their contribu- 
tions. Beside those already mentioned, there have been J. Sebastian 
Matthews, English-born composer of sacred music and organist of Grace 
Church from 1916 until his death in 1934; and Helen Hogan (Mrs. 
Cecil V. Coome), organist for many years at the Central Congregational 
Church until her marriage in 1933, when she returned to London, the 
city of her birth. During Mrs. Coome's life in Providence she won inter- 
national fame as an organist. Walter Williams, former organist of St. 
Stephen's Episcopal Church, was a founder and director of the St. 
Dunstan's School of Music, and has been succeeded by Lawrence Apgar. 
William Smithson, organist of the Park Place Congregational Church 

Music 173 

in Pawtucket, has helped to promote musical activity in the Blackstone 
Valley. Rene Viau, formerly of St. Ann's Church in Woonsocket, founded 
the Beethoven Club there in 1930; Alfred T. Plante, organist of the 
Precious Blood Church, founded the Orpheon Ste. Cecile in 1934. These 
two Woonsocket organizations are both active and successful. Mr. 
Plante is also director of the Knights of Columbus Glee Club and the 
Hebrew Choral Society of that city. 

Numberless women of the -State have contributed their artistic, finan- 
cial, and moral support to music. Among composers there have been 
Florence Newell Barbour, widow of the late president of Brown University, 
and Florence Goodrich (died May, 1928), composer of many children's 
pieces and instruction books. The artists include Lucy Marsh Gordon, 
who has made many recordings under her maiden name of Lucy Isabelle 
Marsh; Avis Bliven-Charbonnel, pianist, founder of the Federal Hill 
House School of Music, now the Community Music School; Ruth Chase 
and Lucia Chagnon, concert sopranos and teachers of voice; Martha 
Baird and Lorette Gagnon, pianists; and many others. Organizations 
and students have had numerous benefactresses. Mrs. Hezekiah Martin 
was known for many years as 'the mother of the Arion Club' because 
of her interest, hospitality, and active help. Mrs. George St. J. Sheffield 
(died February, 1937) was a generous donor to the cause of music and to 
worthy individual students. Mrs. George Hail, who founded the Chami- 
nade Club in iqo6, a year after her arrival in Providence, has been an 
officer in the National Federation of Music Clubs and has devoted a 
large part of her life to sponsoring the cultivation of music. Largely 
through the efforts of Rhode Island women, this State had the first 
Federation of Music Clubs in the country; Miss Ruth Tripp, of Central 
Falls, is its latest president. 

Dr. Wasili Leps came to Providence in 1929 to take over the Providence 
College of Music, an outgrowth of the Hans Schneider Conservatory. 
Of Russian birth, he had had an active career in Europe as pianist, 
violinist, and conductor before his arrival in America in 1906. Before 
coming to Providence he was a resident of Philadelphia, where he was 
associated with John Philip Sousa and Leopold Stokowski. To the Rhode 
Island public he is best known as conductor of the Providence Symphony 
Orchestra and director of the Providence Symphony Chorus. His activi- 
ties are varied, and he lends willing support to such organizations as the 
Clavier Ensemble, the Junior League Glee Club (the State's youngest 
music club), the Brahms Club, and others more firmly established. He 
has written many works, predominantly choral and operatic, his best- 
known opera being 'Hoshi-San,' produced at Philadelphia in 1909. 

174 Rhode Island: The General Background 

The latest musical activities in Rhode Island have been the Federal 
Works Progress Administration music projects and a Brahms Festival 
the latter held in the fall of 1936, sponsored by the Rhode Island 
School of Design, with the Musical Art Quartette and the pianist Frank 
Sheridan as performers. The Works Progress Administration project 
(July, 1937) employs seventy musicians and consists of two units: the 
Rhode Island Concert Orchestra, under the baton of Edouard Caffier, 
and the Rhode Island Concert Band, led by Charles Butterfield. Both 
groups have regular schedules of engagements, and broadcast regularly 
over the three Providence stations. An orchestra of twenty pieces has 
recently been organized at the 30 Benefit Street Art Center by David L. 
Stackhouse, a young Providence composer and conductor. 

Four Rhode Island musicians who have made their reputations out- 
side the State are Allan Lincoln Langley, born at Newport in 1892, a 
composer whose works have been played by the MacDowell Club of New 
York, the Rochester Civic, the Boston Symphony, and the New York 
Philharmonic Symphony Orchestras; Theodore Ward Chanler (born 1902) 
also of Newport, whose instrumental works have been played in Paris 
and New York; George M. Cohan, born in Providence on July 4, 1878, 
composer of many nationally known songs; and Nelson Eddy, born in 
Omeyville on June 29, 1901, graduate of Grace and St. Stephen's Church 
choirs and the Metropolitan Opera Company, now a popular soloist and 
motion picture star. 


THE first dramatic performance in New England by an organized com- 
pany of professional actors took place in Newport on September 7, 1761. 
In spite of a vote of the freemen to the contrary, a company under the 
direction of David Douglass acted 'The Provoked Husband' by Gibber 
and Vanbrugh. The profits from the performance were donated to the 
poor. The character and ability of Douglass's company had been re- 
commended by the Governor of Virginia. A number of wealthy and in- 
fluential Newport folk favored dramatic performances, although a 
majority of their fellow citizens continued to condemn them. There was 
at that time, however, no Rhode Island law prohibiting the drama. 
The company left Newport in November and returned early the following 
summer. Tickets for a performance to be held in the public room of the 
King's Arms Tavern were advertised at six shillings each in a handbill 
which reads in part: 

On Monday, June lo-th . . . will be delivered a series of MORAL DIA- 
LOGUES, in five parts, Depicting the evil effects of jealousy and other bad 
passions, and proving that happiness can only spring from the pursuit of 

Mr. Douglas will represent a noble and magnanimous Moor called 
Othello, who loves a young lady named Desdemona, and after he has 
married her, harbours (as in too many cases) the dreadful passion of 

Of jealousy, our being's bane, 

Mark the small cause and the most dreadful pain. 

Mr. Allyn will depict the character of a specious villain, in the regi- 
ment of Othello, who is so base as to hate his commander on mere suspicion, 
and to impose on his best friend. Of such characters, it is to be feared, there 
are thousands in the world, and the one in question may present to us a salu- 
tary warning. 

The man that wrongs his master and his friend, 
What can he come to but a shameful end? 

Mr. Douglass took care to conclude his 'Moral Dialogues' by 10.30, 
' in order that every spectator may go home at a sober hour, and reflect 
upon what he has seen, before he retires to rest.' 
About the first of July, 1762, the company came to Providence, avoiding 

176 Rhode Island: The General Background 

here, as in Newport, the satanic name ' theater.' It opened ' The Histrionic 
Academy ' in a barn-like building on Meeting Street, east of Benefit Street. 
On July 19, the town meeting voted against the dramatic performances, 
which nevertheless continued. More than four hundred male citizens of 
Providence drew up a petition to stop the actors. This document, with 
all the signatures in one handwriting, was submitted to the General As- 
sembly. The town was so strongly divided over the issue that, when a 
number of citizens threatened to halt the performances by force, John 
Brown procured a cannon and, stationing himself before the theater door, 
swore to open fire on anyone who interrupted the play. Despite this 
Napoleonic defense of the art, and despite the desire of many fashionable 
patrons, the drama was outlawed in Rhode Island in a ridiculously severe 
bill passed August 15, 1762. 

For thirty years there was no theater in the State. Then, in December, 
1792, a Mr. Joseph Harper, after trouble with a similar rigorous law in 
Massachusetts, came to Providence with a company of actors. Harper 
took care to learn the public sentiment toward the drama, and was suc- 
cessful in gaining the assent of the Town Council to a performance. In 
fact, the company performed 'lectures' to large audiences in the Court 
House itself. The February, 1793, meeting of the General Assembly gave 
permission to the Newport Town Council to license dramatic companies, 
in spite of the standing law to the contrary. The Assembly, however, 
made the provision that the State House was not to be used as a theater. 
Harper's company produced plays in Newport in the old brick market 
erected in 1761 as a public granary, but never used for that purpose. 

Harper's company opened in Providence again in December, 1794, and 
in August of the next year a subscription for the building of a permanent 
theater in Providence was started. John Brown donated the lot on the 
corner of Westminster and Mathewson Streets to the enterprise. When it 
seemed, however, that the theater would not be completed by the time 
set for the opening, the majority of the carpenters in Providence aban- 
doned their jobs and finished the building without pay so that it might 
open on September 3, 1795. Many of the wealthy supporters of the drama 
in Providence bought boxes by the season and were served wines and 
sherbets between the acts. Others sent their Negro servants to the theater 
late in the afternoon to purchase tickets and sit in the best seats in the 
house until they themselves arrived. 

Interest in the drama lulled about 1810, but was revived in 1812 by 
the tremendous success of George Frederick Cooke as Shylock in Shake- 
speare's 'Merchant of Venice.' Cooke, considered by some critics to have 

The Theater 177 

been the equal of Garrick, stayed at the famous Golden Ball Inn on Bene- 
fit Street. The American victories over the British in the War of 1812 
were the themes of a number of contemporary plays; 'The Heroes of the 
Lake,' celebrating Commodore Perry's victory on Lake Erie, was very 
successful in Providence in 1814. 

The unprecedented high tide accompanying the Great Gale of Septem- 
ber 23, 1815, which carried away the bridge from Weybosset Point, and 
the emergency ferry established there, so delighted the handsome young 
actor, Joseph Legg, that he spent the whole first day of the ferry service 
riding back and forth. Ten years later the actors arose to meet another 
civic emergency, in greater numbers, however. When the fire on May 23, 
1825, destroyed many buildings near the theater, both the players and 
their audience joined in the fire-fighting. The theater was used to house 
rescued goods, which included one hundred bales of cotton and three 
hundred barrels of whiskey said to have been stored in the basement 
beneath the Universalist Chapel. 

The decade of the i82o's brought a number of the greatest actors of the 
day to Providence. Junius Brutus Booth appeared in 1822. Edwin For- 
rest and William Augustus Conway, the noted American tragedians, 
played at Providence in 1827. Later in the year, Conway retreated as a 
virtual hermit near Newport, and early in 1828, he was drowned at sea. 
Clara Fisher, a child prodigy in England ten years before, took Providence 
by storm in March, 1828, and in July of the same year, Joseph Cowell, 
the comedian, was scheduled to give one performance here on his way from 
Boston to New York. Cowell, however, fell asleep on his hotel balcony 
during the hot afternoon and did not wake up until four o'clock in the 
morning, when he learned that a number of the citizens of Providence, 
thinking he had fallen from the dock, were dragging the river to gam the 
ten-dollar reward posted for the recovery of his body. 

In 1832, the Providence theater building was sold to the Grace Church 
corporation, and for a time was used as a house of worship until the pre- 
sent church building was erected on the site. Providence was then tem- 
porarily without a theater until May, 1836, when the Lion Theater 
opened in a brick building on Fulton Street. Edward L. Davenport, who 
later gained fame for his interpretations of characters from Shakespeare 
and Dickens, appeared during the summer at the Lion. In September of 
the same year, the building burned down, and again there was a gap in 
the drama in Providence, this time for about two years. In late October 
of 1838, Shakespeare Hall, a beautifully decorated stone building, was 
opened. Here in 1840 the great Edwin Booth made an outstandingly 

178 Rhode Island: The General Background 

popular success. Booth's eccentricities caused almost as much comment 
in Providence as his acting. It is said that he used to sit on Peck's Wharf 
and feed crackers to the hogs. It was also reported that two hunters, 
stopping shortly before sunrise in a tavern on the outskirts of Providence, 
found Booth kneeling before a portrait of George Washington, with a lit- 
tle boy beside him whom he was teaching the Lord's Prayer word by word. 

In 1848, the Providence Museum was opened for dramatic productions 
on Westminster Street. Here, early in 1853, * Uncle Tom's Cabin' ran 
for more than four weeks. In October, the Museum burned down and the 
Forbes Theater was built on the site. The Forbes Theater itself was 
destroyed by fire after five years. 

In 1861, the internationally famous Charlotte Cushman and, later in 
the season, Senora Isabel Cubas, a noted Spanish dancer, appeared on the 
stage in the appropriately named Phoenix Building, which had been 
erected on the site of the old Museum and the Forbes Theater. In 1863, 
John Wilkes Booth, later the assassin of President Lincoln, played in 
Providence. The City Hall, which was opened in Providence on January 
4, 1865, was used for more than civic purposes in February a very 
popular production of 'Ten Nights in a Barroom' opened there. 

For some time the Academy of Music had been offering excellent oper- 
atic and dramatic productions. In 1866, it introduced Adelaide Ristori as 
Mary Stuart, John Brougham, the playwright and renowned Irish come- 
dian, and Lotta, who had been showered with gold and silver when she ap- 
peared in minstrel and variety shows in San Francisco. The year 1867 
saw Edwin Booth's magnificent 'Hamlet' produced at the Academy. 

In 1868, Charles Dickens delighted large audiences in the City Hall 
with readings from his own works. In the same year, Mrs. Scott Siddons, 
great-granddaughter of the immortal Mrs. Siddons of eighteenth-century 
London, played Shakespearean roles at the Academy. 

A movement had been afoot for a number of years to provide Providence 
with a suitable opera house. In 1872, Colonel Henry Lippitt directed his 
energies toward accomplishing this purpose. Money to start the enter- 
prise was raised in one day. The structure was completed in ninety work- 
ing days, the last nail being driven ten minutes before the curtain first 
opened. During the succeeding years, such famous persons appeared on 
the stage of the Providence Opera House as Fanny Janauschek, Edwin 
and Junius Booth, Charlotte Cushman, Adelaide Neilson, Mary Ander- 
son, and Ada Rehan. 

During the decade of the i88o's, Sarah Bernhardt played 'Camille' in 
Low's Opera House, which had opened in 1878. Henry Irving appeared in 

The Theater 179 

a number of his Shakespearean roles at Low's; and in 1886, Joseph Ha- 
worth, a native of Providence, played Romeo to Mary Anderson's famed 
Juliet. The ' Mikado ' was a great success at the Providence Opera House 
and was recalled twice. Later in the decade, Julia Marlowe, Edward H. 
Sothern, Salvini, Annie Pixley, and Modjeska made individual triumphs 
in Providence. 

Records of many of the semi-professional or amateur dramatic efforts 
in Rhode Island have been lost, or remain unpublished. It has been said 
that students in Brown University produced Otway's 'The Cheats of 
Scapin' hi April, 1785. Some idea of the family difficulties which Christo- 
pher R. Greene encountered in 1807, when he and several other young 
men organized the Thespian Club, may be obtained from a letter to his 
father, the Honorable Job Greene of Greeneville, Warwick. 'Can the 
Art,' wrote young Christopher, 'which displays the beauty of virtue and 
exposes the deformity of vice in a manner so deeply impressive, be produc- 
tive of consequences so pernicious and destructive? ' In 1859, the Provi- 
dence Dramatic Society presented Bulwer-Lytton's 'Richelieu' with 
James G. Markland, a prominent attorney, in the title role. This group, 
which hired its female members to insure punctuality and regularity of 
attendance at rehearsals, was virtually broken up by enlistments for serv- 
ice in the Civil War. In the late i87o's the Amateur Dramatic Club 
played before members and their subscribers; and in the i88o's the Ham- 
mer and Tongs Society of Brown University was very successful with its 
original musical operettas. The most important ' little theater ' group in 
Rhode Island was organized in 1887 as the Talma Club. Before its origi- 
nal production the club had dwindled to two members, but its member- 
ship in 1890 was increased from thirty-five to almost one hundred and 
forty and the following year it was incorporated. One of its active mem- 
bers, A. E. Thomas, has become a nationally known playwright. Directly 
descended from the Talma Club is the organization called The Players, 
which presented its first play in the Talma Theater in 1909. The theater 
building, which had been used as a church and a riding school, was 
abandoned for dramatic purposes in 1916, and at present houses the 
Providence Boys' club. Although for periods of a few years they played 
in Infantry Hall and in the Elks Auditorium, The Players were without 
a permanent theater until they secured the property at the corner of 
Benefit and Transit Streets where the Barker Playhouse now stands. 
Henry A. Barker, after whom the Playhouse is named, was a leading 
member of the group for more than twenty years, and he left funds for 
its permanent support. 

l8o Rhode Island: The General Background 

In Rhode Island as elsewhere, the interest of the theater-going public 
has been split in recent years between the legitimate stage drama and the 
moving pictures. When in 1929, after twenty-eight years of outstanding 
dramatic work, the Albee Stock Company discontinued playing, the 
moving pictures seemed to have won in competition with the stage. The 
Albee Stock Company had earned for itself a broad reputation, and had 
numbered among its members such players as Henry Hull, Burton Chur- 
chill, and Chester Morris. When its last curtain fell in the Providence 
Opera House on March 14, 1931, Rhode Island was left virtually without 
legitimate drama. 

At the present time, however, traveling companies play before capacity 
audiences in Providence. During the summer, troupes of actors present 
plays at Matunuck. In Newport, the Casino Theater has presented in 
recent seasons such distinguished artists as Ina Claire, Violet Kemble 
Cooper, Grace George, Henry Hull, and Basil Rathbone. Although the 
great days when the Providence Opera House was the center of Rhode 
Island's dramatic activity are over, it seems that, with the revival of the 
drama elsewhere in the country, Rhode Island is also discovering new 
life in the legitimate stage. 



Town: Alt. 40, pop. 11,953, settled, 1669, incorporated, 1681, annexed to Rhode 
Island, 1746. 

Railroad Station: Providence, Warren, and Bristol R.R., Thames and Franklin 


Bus Station: New England Transportation Co., cor. Hope and Wood Streets. 

Taxis: 35ff fare within town limits. 

Piers: Ferry to Prudence Island, W. end of Church Street, 35 one way. 

Accommodations: Limited. 

Information Service: Belvedere Hotel, Hope Street. 

Fishing: Salt-water fishing along the shores of the town, no local restrictions. 
Swimming: Bristol Town Beach, Mount Hope Bay. 

Yachting: Bristol Yacht Club, ft. of Constitution St. Harbor, Narragansett 
Bay, and Mount Hope Bay are sheltered waters. 

Annual Events: Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Italian) on July 16, Feast 
of Jesus Christ (Portuguese), May, church services, parades, band concerts, 
fireworks. Water carnivals and yacht races in spring and summer. 

BRISTOL, a quiet old town under the elms on the shore of Narragansett 
Bay, was probably named for Bristol, England. The prevailing atmos- 
phere is old-fashioned and restful, its tone is quiet, its temper conserva- 
tive. It is generally known as the place where international racing yachts 
are built, but few realize that this was once the fourth busiest seaport in 
the country. Bristol has a deep harbor used by coastwise vessels, fishing 
boats, and yachts. 

There are few towns in America that surpass Bristol in the artistic ex- 
cellence of its many old houses, and the number of these structures is so 
large in proportion to the size of the town that they dominate its charac- 
ter. There are many examples of architecture with carved lintels, Corin- 
thian columns, glazed side-lights, and other forms of Colonial detail. 

The earliest historical reference to Bristol (July, 1621) shows that Mon- 
taup, anglicized to Mount Hope, was the headquarters of Philip, son of 
Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag Indians. Some scholars believe that 
Bristol was visited by the Norsemen between A.D. 1000 and 1008, but the 
claim has not been substantiated. The inscription on 'Dighton Rock' 
near Taunton, Massachusetts, which was one of the chief points put 
forth in favor of Norse occupation of this region, has been shown to be of 
Portuguese origin in the sixteenth century. About A.D. 1000, the Norse- 
men touched some part of the North Atlantic coast between Narragansett 
Bay and the St. Lawrence River in Canada, but the exact spot has never 
been satisfactorily determined. 

Among the old Indian grants conveying lands to the English is one relat- 

184 Main Street and Village Green 

ing to Sowams (March, 1653), wherein Massasoit and his eldest son, 
Alexander, agreed to remove from within granted premises in favor of the 
Plymouth purchasers. Soon after the death of Massasoit (1662) and Alex- 
ander (1663), the remnant of the Wampanoags under Philip gathered 
about Mount Hope. A fence was built across the neck from the Warren 
to the Kickemuit River, to mark the line between the Indians and the 
English. In 1669, Plymouth Colony granted one hundred acres of land 
within the present limits of Bristol to John Gorham; and in July, 1672, 
Gorham, Constant Smith, and James Brown were appointed by the Court 
' to purchase a certain parcel of land of the Indians, granted by the Court 
to said Gorham.' John Gorham may be regarded as the first white settler 
in Bristol. His home was destroyed in June, 1675, at the beginning of 
King Philip's War. 

The war began June 20, 1675, on Pokanoket Neck. The Indians plundered 
the houses of the settlers on the Neck, but it is believed that they offered 
no violence to the settlers they met on the way to the raid because of their 
feeling that the side shedding first blood would be conquered. On June 
29, 1675, Philip, fearing he might be hemmed in on the Mount Hope 
peninsula, fled to Tiverton. Shortly after he was compelled to retire to 
the Nipmuck country, and the tide of war rolled away from the Mount 
Hope lands to the settlements between New York and Maine. For more 
than a year the combat continued, until Philip, deserted by his followers, 
sought refuge at Mount Hope. He was killed by a renegade Indian, Al- 
derman, on August 12, 1676. 

At the close of King Philip's War, the Bristol lands were claimed by Ply- 
mouth by right of conquest, and were confirmed to that Colony by royal 
decree, January 12, 1680. The Plymouth Colony on September 14, 
1680, sold to John Walley, Nathaniel Byfield, Stephen Burton, and 
Nathaniel Oliver all the land now included in the town of Bristol, except 
that section previously granted to John Gorham. Bristol was incorporated 
by Plymouth Colony on October 28, 1681. By royal decree, May 28, 
1746, the eastern boundary between Rhode Island and Massachusetts 
was settled, and Bristol was annexed to Rhode Island and reincorporated. 

Soon after its settlement, Bristol people began to engage in commerce with 
the West Indies and the Spanish Main. The first recorded shipment (No- 
vember 6, 1686), consisting of a number of horses, was consigned to the 
'Bristol Merchant,' bound for Surinam, British Guiana. Slave trade was 
introduced in Rhode Island about 1700, and Bristol was not slow hi join- 
ing Newport and Providence in this highly profitable industry. It has 
been estimated that over a fifth of the total number of slaves crossed the 
Atlantic to British America in Rhode Island vessels, and that of this fifth 
Bristol slavers carried the largest share. Shipping steadily increased until, 
before the Revolution, at least fifty vessels were owned and manned at 
this port. The vessels were usually of small size, and many of them were 
sloops. Horses, sheep, pickled fish, onions, carrots, etc., made up the cargo 
on the outward voyage, and coffee, molasses, sugar, rum, and tropical 
fruits were imported. The outbreak of the Revolution struck hard at the 
prosperity of this flourishing commercial town. 

Bristol 185 

On October 7, 1775, a British commander, Sir James Wallace, sailed his 
fleet of war vessels up Narragansett Bay from Newport, and bombarded 
the town, but withdrew after levying a tribute of forty sheep. A number 
of houses were struck during the bombardment, yet only two lives were 
lost: one child died from exposure, and the Reverend John Burt died of 

A band of five hundred Hessian and British troops advanced on Bristol 
from Warren on May 25, 1778. American forces in Bristol numbered 
about three hundred men. The number of the attacking party was grossly 
exaggerated, and the American commanders marched their small force 
out of town. The British, finding the town at their disposal, marched 
down the main street burning and pillaging the homes. About thirty 
buildings, including the Episcopal Church, were destroyed, and thirty 
or more citizens were carried away prisoners. The town continued to 
suffer from the threatening attitude of the British troops at Newport 
during the period of their stay, 1776-79. After the war the people of 
Bristol rebuilt the town, and commerce soon revived, especially the slave 
trade with Africa and molasses and rum trade with Cuba. The first 
cargo, chiefly furs, imported from China was landed at Bristol in May, 
1804, by the 'Juno,' a full-rigged ship of two hundred and fifty tons, cap- 
tained by John De Wolfe. Voyages to the northwest coast followed the 
trade with China, and a large and profitable business was also established 
with ports in northern and southern Europe. 

Bristol was at the zenith of its commercial prosperity when the second 
war with England broke out in 1812. The town sent out several privateers 
during this war, which were very successful. One of them, the 'Yankee/ 
though in service less than three years, captured British property amount- 
ing to about a million pounds sterling. It was a little brigantine owned 
by James De Wolfe, who had suffered heavy losses from the constant 
harassing of his merchantmen by English war vessels. Though privateer- 
ing prospered, other commerce was nearly stopped, and it was with relief 
that the town received the news of peace in 1815. From 1825 to 1846, 
whale fishing was carried on to a considerable extent by ships from 
Bristol. At one time nineteen vessels were engaged in this business. 
Whale fishing began to decline before the discovery of gold in California 
(1849), but gold fever gave it the death blow. Many of the old merchant 
vessels, earlier converted into whale ships, took cargoes of gold hunters 
safely around Cape Horn, and were then suffered to go to pieces on the 
shoals off the coast of California. 

Bristol engaged in few manufacturing industries during the early period 
of its history. Several gristmills were established soon after the town was 
settled. Some were operated by tidal dams and some by wind power. 
The first of these mills, operated by a tidal dam, was built by Joseph 
Reynolds, prior to 1700, on Bristol Neck. Distilleries began manu- 
facturing rum that was shipped to Africa and bartered for slaves. Rope- 
walks long sheds for spinning rope-yarn and laying rope and tan- 
neries were opened, but slowly passed out of existence. Shipbuilding 

i&6 Main Street and Village Green 

occupied a prominent place among the early industries of Bristol, reaching- 
its peak about 1850. Vessels of that period were of light tonnage, and 
were built for speed and endurance, rather than weight and capacity. 

The nineteenth century saw the rise of many new industries here. Oil 
works and candle factories were established in 1830, and the business 
was continued on a profitable basis for more than thirty years. The 
Bristol Steam Mill Company erected the first cotton mill in 1835. It is 
now the Namquit Mill and has changed from the manufacture of cotton 
cloth to worsted yarns. A sugar refinery, established in 1849, flourished 
for a while, and then stopped. The Burnside Rifle Company was estab- 
lished in 1853 by Colonel Ambrose E. Burnside. Colonel Burnside in- 
vented a breech-loading rifle while he was on duty in Mexico. The Burn- 
side Company made rifles for the Government until 1857, when the 
factory closed. The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, designers and 
builders of boats, was established in 1863. The Cranston Worsted Mills, 
now the Collins-Aikman Company, manufacturers of automobile up- 
holstery fabrics, worsted knitting yarns and weaving yarns, was founded 
in 1866. The establishing of these and other manufactories has resulted 
in a great influx of Italians and Portuguese, but Americanization and 
intermarriage have obliterated racial differences somewhat. The fish and 
shellfish industries are growing enterprises here, and in them many town- 
folk find a ready source of revenue. 

Communication with Providence was maintained by means of packet 
sloops and stagecoaches, until 1830; in that year a line of steamers was 
established plying between Fall River and Providence, stopping at 
Bristol. In 1857, the first railroad between Bristol and Providence went 
into operation, and in 1867 the Narragansett Steamship Company estab- 
lished steamers plying between New York and Bristol. The two vessels 
built for this company were transferred to the Fall River Line in 1869 
(see Transportation). 

TOUR 1 1 m. 

N. from State St. on Hope St. 

i. Bradford House (private), NE. cor. of Hope and State Sts., was built 
in 1792 on the site of Deputy-Governor William Bradford's residence 
burned by the British in May, 1778. The Bradfords lived here in the 
winter, and resided in their home at Mount Hope during the summer 
season. This late Georgian Colonial mansion, a three-story frame house, 
is almost square in plan, and has a one-story portico projecting from the 
west side, which consists of six Ionic columns. The portico is surmounted 
by a white parapet rail. There are white wooden quoins at the corners 
of the building which contrast sharply with the rich brown siding. A 
heavy white cornice and parapet rail encircle the house above the second 

Bristol 187 

floor. The third floor, set back about three feet, is surmounted by a 
similar cresting. 

2. Linden Place (private), or the De Wolfe-Colt Mansion, cor. of Hope 
and Ward well Sts., is one of the most pretentious white frame houses of 
the post-Colonial period in Bristol. Designed by Russell Warren, it was 
built in 1810 by George De Wolfe, but because of the many alterations 
and obvious attempts that have been made to modernize this great three- 
story structure, it has lost much of its dignity and charm. Its architec- 
tural detail is designed in the bold scale of the Classic Revival along with 
the still later and somewhat questionable taste of the early Victorian 
period. The massive Corinthian portico on the front, with its wide three- 
story gallery, recalls the typical Southern manor house. The charming 
parapet rail with its delicate cornice-and-finial-cresting, is strikingly 
similar to that of the De Wolfe-Middleton House. Perhaps the most 
curious feature of the exterior is the one-story octagonal wing adjoining 
at the right. Arcaded, and with its long pointed arch windows and elab- 
orate cresting, the wing resembles a tiny chapel. 

The spacious lawn, with its elms and bronze statues, is enclosed by an 
elaborately scrolled wrought-iron fence with three beautiful gates. A 
graceful gate head and lantern surmount the large central gateway, and 
it is said that this unusual example of early wrought-iron work was 
probably brought here from the Jerathmael Bowers House (1770) in 
Somerset, Massachusetts. 

It was from Linden Place that Rosalie De Wolfe, a daughter of George 
De Wolfe, made her runaway match with John Hopper, son of a Quaker 
philanthropist. This couple later became the parents of William D'Wolf 
Hopper, better known as De Wolf Hopper, noted author and actor. 

3. Rogers Free Library (open daily 3-6, 7-9; Sat. 3-9), Hope St. opposite 
Wardwell St., was founded in 1877 by Mrs. Maria De Wolfe Rogers, 
widow of a banker. The two-story building, with its steep slate roof 
and large dormer windows, is constructed of rough-faced brownstone 
with carved trim and rich cap ornaments. A large mullioned window in 
the high central gable, above the entrance porch, forms the dominant 
architectural feature of the exterior. The upper part of this window is 
filled with tinted cathedral glass. There is an air of solid dignity about 
the building, befitting its purpose, the character of its founder and its 
neighborhood. The library proper, housing a fine collection of about 
24,000 volumes, is on the second floor. 

4. Colt Memorial High School, cor. Hope and Bradford Sts., is a two-and- 
one-half-story marble structure (1906). The main building is square in 
plan, with a green-tiled hip roof. The main central motif consists of a 
pedimented portico with fluted Corinthian columns. The building is 
fronted with a marble, balustraded terrace. The school has an audito- 
rium seating 400 persons. 

5. Site of Trinity Church, NE. cor. Hope and Bradford Sts. The struc- 
ture was razed in 1937 after more than a half century of service to a 

1 88 Main Street and Village Green 

parish that owed much of its prosperity to the beneficence of Mrs. Ruth 
B. De Wolfe, descendant of Dr. Aaron Bourne, an incorporator of the 
town and one of its first doctors. Her husband was a grandson of Mark 
Anthony De Wolfe. Mrs. De Wolfe, who died in 1874, directed that the 
greater part of her large estate be given to the parish 'next and first 
organized according to the usages, principles and canons of the Protes- 
tant Episcopal Church in the United States and the Diocese of Rhode 
Island/ One condition of the gift was that the pews or seats of the 
church edifice that might be erected should not be sold or rented for a 
longer time than one year, the wish of the testator being that the church 
might be 'maintained as nearly as possible on the "Free Seat" system'; 
another was that the parish should be organized and admitted to the con- 
vention of the diocese before any real estate should be conveyed to it. 
The building was completed in 1878. 

6. Captain John Collins House (private), 617 Hope St., built and owned 
by a sea captain, is a two-story white frame house (1838) of Greek 
Revival architecture, rectangular in plan, and topped with a gable roof. 
The front gable of the roof extends five feet from the front wall to form a 
pedimented portico, supported by four Ionic columns. In the tympanum 
of the pediment is a small elliptical arched window. The main entrance 
portal consists of a paneled door, surmounted by a classic entablature. 
There are two red-brick chimneys in the rear. 

7. The Collins House (private), 620 Hope St., was built (1785) by Charles 
Collins, Collector of the Port of Bristol. Collins succeeded Samuel 
Bosworth as Collector of the Port of Bristol when, in 1799, Bosworth 
persisted in his efforts to represent the United States Government in 
bidding for a De Wolfe vessel, condemned for 'a breach of the law pro- 
hibiting traffic in slaves.' Bosworth was kidnaped, on a signal from 
Collins, by a company of fellow townsmen disguised as Indians. They 
bundled him off into a boat and landed him on the shore of Mount Hope 
Bay, more than two miles away from the scene of the auction at which 
he was at that moment to have played a conspicuous role. The house, 
of Georgian design, is a two-story yellow-brick structure, square in plan, 
and topped with a fine cornice and low hipped roof. The windows are 
surmounted by decorative lintels. 

8. The Parker Borden House (private) (1799), 736 Hope St., is a two-and- 
one-half-story shingled structure, erected for Captain Parker Borden, a 
wealthy merchant who was engaged in foreign commerce. The house has 
a gable roof, quoined corners, and an ell projecting from the east side. 
The main entrance portal, with its arched fan-light, Ionic colonnettes, 
and crowning pediment, is approached by a double flight of brownstone 
steps, with an iron guard rail. The window on the second floor, over the 
main entrance, is in the form of a small Palladian motif which seems 
rather out of scale with the general proportion of the exterior. The house 
has never been painted; its sturdy wood exterior has long withstood the 
New England weather. 

9. Quiteras Junior High School (1927), cor. Hope and Washington Sts., 



THESE glimpses of cities and towns reveal either general 
characteristics or unique features not readily summarized 
under specific headings. Providence is represented by a har- 
bor scene, decorative detail on the Fleur de Lys Building, and 
the pergola and lawn of the John Brown House. Newport 
has a scene of the harbor and the well-preserved Wanton- 
Lyman-Hazard House. Bristol is represented by two houses, 
one with a characteristically fanciful parapet; and Westerly 
by a small eighteenth-century house typical of the south- 
western part of the State. The quiet country road in Potowo- 
mut illustrates the rural character of the City of Warwick. 










. ii 











Bristol 189 

was the gift of Dr. Ramon Guiteras as a memorial to his mother, Elizabeth 
Wardwell Guiteras. The building is planned in the form of a crescent. 
Facing the main highway, the central pedimented portico of Indiana 
limestone is supported by six Corinthian columns and flanked by two- 
story white-brick wings. 

10. Bosworth House (private} ,814 Hope St. , was built for Deacon Nathaniel 
Bosworth, born at Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1651, and removed to 
Bristol by way of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, where he lived for some 
time. A cooper and fisherman, Bosworth was also an incorporator of the 
town and the first deacon of its first church (Congregational), the organ- 
ization and initial services taking place in his home. The house, built in 
1680, is believed to be the oldest in Bristol. Only the southwest portion 
of the present structure was built by the older Bosworth, but his suc- 
cessors, in making additions, have preserved the original form, so that 
the two-story, hip-roof mansion, with its twelve-paned windows and some- 
what dilapidated Ionic portico, presents an air of quiet comfort. One of 
its nineteenth-century owners believed that several cannon balls, shot 
from British vessels during the bombardment of the town in 1775, had 
pierced the walls and lodged between the first-floor ceiling and the floor 
of the second story. Incredulous listeners smiled with disbelief whenever 
the story was told, but when the house was repaired in 1863, several 
large-sized grapeshot were found. 

11. Reynolds House (private], 956 Hope St., was built in 1698 by Joseph 
Reynolds, and is of an earlier Colonial type than some of the other 
prominent mansions in town. The main section of this old frame structure, 
almost square in plan, is three stories high with a long sharply sloping 
roof. The main door, with its fan-lights, pilasters and pediment, is on 
the west side of the house. On the south side is a small, plain, one-story 
portico, surmounted by a glassed-in room that is part of the second story. 
A low, two-story, gable-roof ell with a tall brick chimney projects from 
the house on the east side. In September, 1778, General Lafayette made 
his headquarters in this house. Mrs. Reynolds was informed of the ap- 
proach of her guest and made suitable preparation for his reception. 
More than an hour before the time appointed for Lafayette's coming, a 
young Frenchman rode up to the house and, dismounting, tied his horse 
to a tree which stood near-by. Mrs. Reynolds thought he was one of the 
general's attendants, so she sent her Negro servant, Cato, to conduct 
him to the room designed for the subordinate officers. The young man 
expressed a desire for something to eat and was seated at the table pre- 
pared for his commander, though his hostess wondered that he could 
not control his appetite until a more appropriate hour. The officer ate 
heartily of the dinner placed before him, but sat so long at the table 
that Mrs. Reynolds was forced to remind him that his general was mo- 
mentarily expected. To her amazement, the young man announced that 
he was the visitor whose arrival the household was awaiting. 

190 Main Street and Village Green 

TOUR 2 0.6 m. 

W. from Wood St. on State St. 

12. Bristol Common, between State, Wood, High, and Church Sts., is 
an eight-acre tract set aside by the town proprietors in 1781 for public 
use. The Common, now a park, includes an athletic field. 

13. St. Mary's Church^ (R.C.), SE. cor. Wood and State Sts., is a white 
brick edifice of Gothic design (1911). It has imported, hand-painted 
windows, and an Italian marble altar with statues on either side. The 
first St. Mary's Church, a plain frame building, was built in 1855. 

14. State Armory (not open), State St., between High and Wood Sts., is 
the home of the Bristol Train of Artillery, chartered in June, 1794. By 
the charter the company was made independent of all other regiments; 
when in active service it was to be under the command of the Governor 
only. Its members were exempted from ordinary militia service. Two 
brass field pieces, believed to have been captured from the British at 
the surrender of Burgoyne, were presented to the company by the State 
in 1797. 

15. Russell Warren House (private] (about 1800), 86 State St., was designed 
and occupied by Russell Warren, architect of many Bristol mansions. 
It is a two-and-one-half-story frame structure with gabled roof from 
which rise two cement-coated chimneys. The design of the exterior is 
somewhat debased by the bizarre detail of its decoration. The recessed 
entrance portal with its green paneled door, arched fan-light, and splayed 
reveal, is framed by curious angel-posts and an elaborate lintel. Above 
the entrance is a 32-pane flat window. The raked corner quoins are a 
departure from the usual form. 

R. from State St. on High St. 

1 6. Congregational Church, cor. High and Bradford Sts., is a gray stone 
edifice with granite trim. The church was built in 1855-56, and is an 
example of Gothic Revival architecture. A tower on the northwest corner 
is surmounted with belfry and turrets. A chapel, dedicated in 1870, 
adjoins the church edifice. The first Congregational meeting-house in 
Bristol was erected in 1683, on the site where the Courthouse now stands. 
The church possesses many historic treasures, among which are two cups, 
dated 1693, the gift of Nathaniel Byfield, one of the original proprietors 
of the town and a founder of the church. 

17. Baptist Church, High St., between State and Church Sts., is a granite 
edifice of Gothic design, with bell-tower. The First Baptist Church 
in Bristol was founded by Dr. Thomas Nelson. He came to Bristol in 
1801, but shortly afterward decided to continue on to New York. A 
terrific storm arose, the ship was wrecked, and all were lost except Nelson 
and one other. This incident made him feel that he was another Jonah, 

Bristol 191 

who had attempted to flee from the Lord. Dr. Nelson returned to 
Bristol in 1811, and with 23 members formed the church. Arrangements 
were made to build a substantial edifice, but the parishioners were too 
poor to bear all the expense of its erection, although the town had granted 
them a portion of the Common as a site; extra funds were procured by 
a lottery. The Stone Chapel, as the church building was called for many 
years, was completed in 1814. 

18. Bristol County Courthouse, High St. opposite Court St., is a two- 
and-one-half-story, cream-colored building of Federal architecture. It 
was built about 1817, and has been recently renovated. The structure 
is adjoined by a two-story addition in the rear, and surmounted by an 
octagonal cupola. Here the General Assembly met occasionally until 
1844. The building houses the Superior Court, the Fifth District Court, 
and a juvenile court. 

R. from High St. on Court St. 

19. Burnside Memorial Building (open 9-12, 1-5), SE. cor. Court and 
Hope Sts., was built in 1883-84, and named in honor of General Burnside, 
of Civil War fame. The building is constructed of granite, with brown- 
stone trim. It houses the various offices of the town government. On 
the south side of the hall is the Soldiers' and Sailors 1 Monument; sur- 
mounting a large rock is the bronze figure of a Union soldier, and by 
his side a sailor with the flag and an upraised sword. 

Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-81) was born at Liberty, Indiana. He was 
graduated from West Point in 1847, and served in the army until 1852, 
when he resigned to manufacture a breech-loading rifle of his own in- 
vention. The factory for the latter, situated in Bristol, was later incor- 
porated into the Herreshoff plant. After a few years in the rifle business, 
Burnside moved to Illinois, where he became (1858) treasurer of the 
Illinois Central Railroad. On the outbreak of the Civil War he entered 
the Union army as colonel of the First Regiment of Rhode Island Vol- 
unteer Infantry. He commanded a brigade at the first battle of Bull Run; 
as major-general he had charge of the left wing of the Union army at the 
battle of Antietam. In November, 1862, he succeeded McClellan as 
commander of the Army of the Potomac. In December, he crossed the 
Rappahannock River to attack Lee at Fredericksburg, where he was 
badly repulsed. He conducted lesser commands later in the war with 
competence; his services elicited formal thanks from Congress, President 
Lincoln, General Grant, and the General Assembly of Rhode Island. 
Burnside was Governor of the State 1866-69, an d United States Senator 
from 1875 until his death in September, 1881., Aside from his public 
career, Burnside is remembered for the kind of whiskers he popularized. 

L. from Court St. on Hope St. 

20. Howe-Ckur chill- Diman House (private) (1809), 341 Hope St., was 
built by the grandfather of Mark Anthony De Wolfe Howe. It is a 
yellow clapboarded structure designed in the early Federal style. The 
house is two stories high, with a small colonnaded portico projecting 

192 Main Street and Village Green 

from the front. A vestibule with blank side walls encloses more than 
one-half the portico. There is a stately entrance portal set in an ellip- 
tical arch with fan- and side lights. The delicately corbeled cornice of the 
house is surmounted by an elaborate white railing with diamond paneling, 
urn finials, and white spread eagles on the four corner posts. Shortly 
after the War of 1812, this house was the home of one of Bristol's out- 
standing privateersmen, Captain Benjamin Churchill. He ornamented 
the four corner posts of the roof railing with carved eagles, thereby 
replying to the challenge of a neighboring privateersman who had capped 
his dwelling with a pilot house. The next prominent occupant of the 
house was Byron Diman, a native of Bristol and a business associate of 
James De Wolfe. He was the Lieutenant-Go vernor of the State, 1840-42, 
1843-46, and Governor, 1846-47. 

21. St. Michael's Church, Hope St. between Church and Constitution 
Sts., was built in 1 860-61. It is of Victorian Gothic design constructed 
of freestone, with a steeple on the southwest corner. The Chapel (1877) 
is a rough brownstone edifice with walls laid in broken ashlar. The 
doors and inside finish are of ash, and most of the floors are of Southern 
hard pine. The windows on the south side are glazed with decorated 
cathedral glass, those on the north side have plain glass with tinted 
borders. The church society was established in 1721 by the Reverend 
James Orem, who was succeeded in 1723 by John Usher. During the 
latter's pastorate a town law was passed requiring him to support all 
the widows of the parish out of his salary. In May, 1778, the old St. 
Michael's Church was burned by a raiding band of British soldiers from 
Newport, who supposed that the tombs under the church were the town's 
powder magazines. Until the close of the Revolution, anti-English feel- 
ing caused Episcopal services to be suspended. Later the parish experi- 
enced two notable revivals, in 1812 and 1820, the latter so fervent that 
shops were closed and business came to a standstill. 

R. from Hope St. on Constitution St. 

22. The Collins- Aikman Company (open on application to the superin- 
tendent), 1 80 Thames St., long known as the Cranston Worsted Mills, 
stands as a substantial expression of the work of the late Charles B. 
Rockwell, who made a close study, both here and abroad, of the sorting 
and preparation of wool and the art of converting it into novelty yarn. 
In 1886, he founded the Cranston Worsted Mills, at Cranston, and soon 
purchased the former Pokanoket Steam Cotton Mill, in Bristol. The 
plant has since been much enlarged. In 1927, the business was merged 
with the Collins-Aikman Corporation, manufacturers of Ca-Vel and other 
plush automobile upholstery, fabrics for which about 80 per cent of the 
Bristol product is used; the remainder of the output is yarn for weaving 
and knitting. 

23. From Thames St., looking west, is a broad and panoramic View of 
Bristol Harbor, Poppasquash Neck, and Hog and Patience Islands (see 
Tour 5). There were Revolutionary Intrenchments along the west side of 
Thames St. during the Revolution; they were built along the shore, ex- 



tending south from the foot of State St. to the foot of Burton St. They 
comprised a wall five feet high, built of turf and stones, and filled on the 
inside with loose earth and small stones; nothing remains of the old work. 


N. from the town center on Hope St. (State 114). 
Left from Hope St. on Colt Drive. 

On either side of the entrance to the Drive is a capped marble pedestal, 
about eight feet high, on which stands a bronze bull. 

24. On the Drive, between Hope St. and the shore, where the Drive 
enters the Colt estate proper, is the Bristol Poor Farm, a spacious estate 
with a plain stone house standing in a group of elm trees. The property was 
presented to the town by Captain James De Wolfe. When the gift was 
made, a fellow citizen is said to have remarked, ' Why, Captain De Wolfe, 
there'll never be need for so large a poor farm in this small town.' The 
old gentleman, who was already troubled by his son's tendency to ex- 
travagance, replied with a smile, 'Oh, my grandchildren will be coming 
to live on that farm yet, and they are accustomed to plenty of room.' 

On the grounds of the Colt estate itself, the Drive, about 2 m. long, 
winds along the rock-strewn shore of Narragansett Bay (R), and then 
turns east (L) toward the built-up section of Bristol. 

End of Colt Drive at Poppasquash Rd. 

A short distance (R) on Poppasquash Rd. is Point Pleasant Farm, where once lived 
Nathaniel Byfield. He was the youngest of 21 children in a family prominent in 
English Church and Court; he landed in Boston in 1674 from England. During 
a period of six years in Boston, he married and became wealthy. In 1680, when 
the deeds for Bristol were granted, he acquired a large estate, and began an active 
life on behalf of the town. When a court was established with the incorporation, 
he became chief judge, and was five times a delegate to the General Court in 
Boston. He held the position of Chief Justice in the Court of General Sessions of 
the Peace and Common Pleas for 38 years. In 1702, Governor Dudley appointed 
him Judge of Probate for the County of Bristol. In 1724, feeling that he deserved 
a rest, he retired to Boston, where he died in 1733. John Brown Herreshoff of the 
boat yard also once lived on this farm. 

Left from Colt Drive on Poppasquash Rd. 

Poppasquash Road extends along the west shore of Bristol Harbor on 
Poppasquash Neck. There is a view to the eastward (R) of the harbor 
and the town of Bristol, and (L) stretches a broad landscape dotted 
here and there with farmhouses and modest estates. Poppasquash Neck, 
the westernmost promontory of the township, projects into Narragansett 
Bay. Probably the first settlers on the Neck were a small group of 
squatters from Providence, who found it a convenient fishing ground. 

25. Near the exit of Colt Drive is the De Wolfe-Middleton House (1808), 
designed by Russell Warren and built by William De Wolfe, father of 
Maria De Wolfe Rogers. The house is sometimes called 'Hey Bonnie 

194 Main Street and Village Green 

Hall.' It was the custom of Mrs. Middleton, his granddaughter, to sing 
'Hey the Bonnie' a Scotch ballad of which Mr. De Wolfe was very fond. 
When approaching his end, having sunk into a lethargy from which no 
efforts would arouse him, after a long time of unconsciousness he opened 
his eyes and said, ' Where is my little " Hey the Bonnie "? ' These were his 
last words, and from them Mrs. Middleton gave the name to this old home- 
stead. The mansion, a Northern house with a Southern plan, is an excellent 
example of post-Colonial architecture. The east portico is supported by 
two Corinthian columns which rise to the roof, and the smaller columns 
at either side of the entrance door support a balcony protected by the 
porch roof. The proportions of the house are well balanced and the large 
wings suggest the Virginia plantation house. There is a sense of dignity 
and simplicity of design in the detail of the windows and the pilasters, 
and the hand-carving of the balusters is unusual. Old-fashioned flower- 
gardens dot the lawns. 

Beyond the Middleton House, Poppasquash Rd. winds around the west 
and north sides of Bristol Harbor. 

26. At the junction of Poppasquash Rd. and Hope St. is the Site of a 
British Encampment. Here a band of Bristol troops were stationed on 
May 26, 1778, while scouts were sent forward to reconnoiter. The scouts 
seized an aged woman, and threatened to take her as a prisoner to New- 
port unless she informed them of the number and location of the American 
troops and the situation of the leading houses. The terrified woman 
quickly gave the desired information, and the British soldiers marched 
through the town. As the soldiers marched along, small squads were sent 
out from time to time to visit the houses. Many of the homes were 
plundered and many persons were taken prisoner. It is related that when 
the British troops reached the corner of Hope and State Sts., their com- 
mander was addressed in a pompous manner by a gentleman, with the 
salutation, 'I am a friend of the King.' 'You are just the man we want. 
Fall in!' was the reply, and he was carried away captive. 

R. from Poppasquash Rd. on Hope St. to center of town. 


S. from front of Burnside Memorial on Hope St. 

27. Herreshoff Manufacturing Company (open on application to superin- 
tendent), Hope and Burnside Sts., was established in 1863. When John 
Brown Herreshoff, a lover of boats who was stricken with blindness at 
the age of 18, accepted a commission to design and build a yacht for 
Thomas Clopham, he began an industry that throve beyond all expecta- 
tions and brought international fame and honor to himself and to Bristol. 
In his early years, Herreshoff had acquired such a knowledge and 'feel' 
of boats that his blindness was no obstacle. The handwork, however, 

Bristol 195 

was done by his brother, Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, called ' The Wizard 
of Bristol.' John had an exceptional memory and a photographic mind. 
His method was to dictate specifications to his brother, who would 
construct a model; then by feeling of the model, he could find 'defects and 
suggest improvements with uncanny intuition. A secondary faculty was 
his ability to estimate the cost of a boat down to the last dollar, and 
no one was ever able to take advantage of him. 

Though the name Herreshoff has come to connote a long list of successful 
America's Cup Defenders, dating back to 1893 and including the 'Vigilant,' 
'Columbia,' 'Reliance,' and 'Resolute,' this plant has designed and built 
hundreds of pleasure craft and service vessels. In beginning his work in 
1863, John B. Herreshoff, then only 22 years old, hired a crew of men, 
procured supplies of seasoned lumber, and fitted up an old tannery as a 
shop. In the next year, nine sailing craft, ranging in length from 22 to 
35 feet, were launched. As the business grew, the old Burnside Rifle 
Factory was bought and converted into a sawmill for producing the 
plant's own lumber. By 1868, Herreshoff had built his first steamer, the 
'Annie Morse,' following it in 1870 with the 'Seven Brothers,' a pioneer 
fishing steamer on the Atlantic coast. 

From time to time cup defender yachts can be seen at the Herreshoff 
Company's dock. The 'Resolute' was built to defend America's Cup 
against Sir Thomas Lipton's 'Shamrock IV in 1914, but owing to the 
World War, the race was postponed until 1920 when the 'Resolute' was 
again named to defend the Cup. This series (1920) was the first in which 
the defender and challenger were sailed by amateur crews. In the first 
race of the series, the 'Resolute' parted the throat halyard of her main- 
sail and broke the gaff-jaws, so she had to be towed back. This is the 
first instance of a defender failing to cross the finish line. The second 
race was also won by the challenger, but the ' Resolute ' won the remain- 
ing three races, and retained the Cup. 

The first torpedo boat built in this country was built at the Herreshoff 
boat yards in Bristol in 1885. This boat, named 'Stiletto/ was originally 
a yacht, and it was built as an experiment. It was sold to the Govern- 
ment in 1887, and was refitted as a torpedo boat. According to the meager 
records at the Herreshoff Company, the boat was 94 feet in length, with 
an 1 1 -foot beam, and was of wooden construction. It had an engine and 
a single screw. The 'Stiletto' was on duty in Newport until after the 
World War. 

Along this elm-roofed highway, the southern end of Hope St., lined with 
palatial residences and estates, are occasional views (R) of the placid 
waters of Mount Hope Bay and numerous yachts lying at anchor. 

R. from Hope St. on Ferry Rd.; L. from Ferry Rd. on Griswold Am.; L. 
from Griswold Ave. on Metacom Ave. 

28. Mount Hope Farm (open by appointment) (R), Metacom Ave., is on 
an elevation overlooking Mount Hope Bay. This was once an Indian 
village and the home of the noted Indian sachem, King Philip. It has 

196 Main Street and Village Green 

recently been restored to its natural beauty and is being preserved as a 
reservation reminiscent of Indian life. 

King Philip's Chair, a group of stones rolled together to resemble a chair, 
is a little north of the top of the mount. It was from this chair that 
Philip addressed his men and other tribesmen during his reign. 

The King Philip Museum (open by appointment) is at the summit of the 
elevation. It was established in 1904, and occupies the probable site of 
the home of King Philip. The building is a plain, one-story concrete 
structure, and it houses notable collections and exhibits of about 75,000 
Indian relics. 

On the side of the road leading to the museum is a granite stone that 
marks the spot where King Philip was killed (see Indians). Just north 
of this marker is King Philip's Spring, sometimes called Cold Spring. 
According to tradition, Philip is said to have drunk of its water just 
before he was ambushed and slain. When the news was brought to Cap- 
tain Benjamin Church that King Philip and a band of Pokanoket Indians 
had taken refuge in the swamp at the foot of Mount Hope, he immediately 
set out for the place with his company, made up of Indians and English- 
men. Captain Church rightly conjectured that the hunted band would 
rush into the swamp as soon as the alarm was given, and therefore placed 
a part of his company in ambush behind the trees, pairs of Englishmen 
and Indians being placed together. Philip was relating to his friend a 
dream which had disheartened him in the night; the dream had placed 
him in the hands of his foes, and it seemed to him to presage his speedy 
end. At this moment, one of his followers happened to glance toward 
the spot where two of their enemy were concealed. The Englishman saw 
the glance, and, thinking himself discovered, fired his gun. The Poka- 
nokets, without resisting, at once plunged forward to escape, and Philip 
rushed straight upon two men of the party in ambush. An Englishman 
first aimed at the chieftain, but his gun missed fire; his companion, 
Alderman, one of the Sakonnet tribe, fired, his bullet penetrated the 
heart of Philip, and he fell forward upon his face in the mire. Alderman 
was given the head and the scarred hand by which Philip's corpse was 
identified, and the headless trunk was quartered and left unburied on 
the ground. 

Senator Bradford House (private) (about 1770), on Mount Hope Farm, is 
a dignified mansion of Georgian Colonial architecture. It is a two-and- 
one-half-story white frame house, rectangular in plan, with two squatty 
chimneys rising from the peak of its gambrel roof. The central doorway 
consists of a white paneled entrance door surmounted by a classical 
pediment supported by two Ionic pilasters. Pedimented dormer windows 
project from the roof on the west side. The windows of the house have 
very small panes, and are topped by corniced headings. 

It was once occupied by Colonel Isaac Royall of Medford, a British 
Loyalist and a member of the King's Provincial Council for 22 years. 
Royall fled to England in 1776, where he died in 1781. He bequeathed 

Bristol 197 

about 2000 acres of land in Worcester County, Massachusetts, to found 
the first Law Professorship of Harvard University. The Mount Hope 
Farm lands were confiscated by the State during Revolutionary days, 
were sold, and the proceeds were appropriated to help support the militia. 
Later it became the home of William Bradford, Deputy-Governor and 
later United States Senator from Rhode Island. Bradford died in July, 
1808, and the property was inherited by his son-in-law, James De Wolfe, 
youngest son of Mark Anthony De Wolfe. 

During the War of 1812, Captain James De Wolfe sponsored several 
privateers, including the 'Yankee.' One of his vessels brought into 
Bristol a prize heavily laden with gold, and the captain carried the gold 
to his home, The Mount, where he spread it on the floor and then lay 
down in it exclaiming, 'I have always meant to roll in wealth.' After 
the war, James De Wolfe appeared as a man of affairs extending his 
shipping ventures into whaling and commerce with China. Foreseeing the 
future of cotton manufacturing, he established the Arkwright Mills in 
Coventry, in 1812. He was influential in local politics, was United 
States Senator 1821-25. 

R. from Metacom Ave. on Town Beach Rd. 

29. Bristol Town Beach, at the end of this road, is a fine sandy beach on 
the west shore of Mount Hope Bay. Here is also a five-acre picnic 
ground, equipped with tables and fireplaces (open; free). 

30. Near the end of Town Beach Rd. is the Site of Narrows Fort, a 
small fortification built in 1675 during King Philip's War. It was here 
that Captain Benjamin Church, when on his singular and adventurous 
expedition to capture Anawon, one of Philip's warriors, roasted horse- 
beef for his men in August, 1676. Here also Church confined several 
prisoners; he 'had catched ten Indians,' and guarded them all night in 
one of the flankers of the garrison. 

31. On the shore of the bay, about 0.4 m. north (L) from the end of 
Town Beach Rd. (reached by walking) is Northmen's Rock. It is about 
ten feet long and six feet wide; popular conjecture associates this rock, 
upon which is a strange inscription, with the visit of the Vikings. It is 
believed that as the boat of the Northmen approached the shore, the 
broad flat surface of the rock presented itself invitingly to their feet 
amid the huge round boulders that covered most of the shore. When the 
party set out to explore the surrounding country, so the story goes, one 
of their number was left in charge of the boat. He seated himself upon 
the rock and amused himself by cutting his name and the figure 'of his 
boat upon its surface. 

PRUDENCE ISLAND, in Portsmouth Township, lying about four 
miles SW. of Bristol, is reached by a Ferry from Church St. Dock (fare 35^ 
one way) . The island is about 6 miles long and i mile wide, and was largely 
wooded until the Revolution when much of the natural growth was used 
by the British for fuel. There are a few permanent residences on the 

198 Main Street and Village Green 

island, and within the past few years several summer places have been 

The island was purchased from the Indians soon after Roger Williams 
settled at Providence in the summer of 1636. In the i65o's an attempt 
was made, under authority of the Duke of York, to develop it into a feudal 
estate, known as Topley or Sophy Manor. Two small engagements were 
fought on the island during 1776. 


City: Alt. o-ioo, pop. 27,612, sett. 1639, incorp. 1784-1853. 

Railroad Station: N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R., foot of West Marlborough St. 

Airport: Newport Airport, no scheduled service, 3.5 m. north of Washington 

Square, Broadway and State 114 to Chase Lane turn-off. 

Information Service: Chamber of Commerce, 127 Thames St.; Automobile 

Club of Rhode Island, 15 Pelham St.; Automobile Liability Association, 26 

Long Wharf. 

Accommodations: Six hotels and numerous inns, boarding-houses, restaurants, 
and taverns. 

Piers: Interstate Navigation Co. to Block Island from June i to September 
15 inclusive, steamboat leaves Perry Mill Wharf daily; Jamestown and New- 
port Ferry Co., Market Square, hourly service; U.S. Government Ferry to 
Torpedo Station, Government Landing. 

Theaters: The Newport Casino presents a series of stock productions, afternoon 
concerts, and other entertainments during the summer season. 

Annual Events: Newport Casino Tennis Tournament, in August; New York 
Yacht Club Annual Cruise; the Astor, King and Brenton Cup Races held an- 
nually in August, off Brenton's Reef Course; the International Cup Races off 
Brenton's Reef Course in September of the challenge year. 

Fishing: Anywhere along the coast of Newport, in its harbor or off the rocks, 
salt-water fishing may be enjoyed no local restrictions. 

Swimming: Newport Beach Pool, Bath Road; Y.M.C.A Pool, Mary St.; Army 
and Navy Y.M.C.A. Pool, Washington Sq.; Newport Beach, Bath Road; 
Hazard's Beach, Ocean Ave.; Viking Beach, Ocean Ave.; Bailey's Beach, 
Ocean Ave. 

Yachting: Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Wellington Ave.; Newport Yacht Club, Swan 
Ave.; N.Y. Yacht Club, N.Y.Y.C. Wharf. Newport has a sheltered harbor for 
yachts of all sizes, and Narragansett Bay offers the yachting enthusiast great 

Newport 199 

THE City of Newport covers the jagged peninsula on the southwestern 
end of the Island of Rhode Island that looks like a crumpled old boot, 
with its toe pointing westward into Narragansett Bay and its sole and 
rear to the Atlantic Ocean. The old center is, roughly, at the front of the 
ankle on sheltered Newport Harbor. The famous Ten-Mile Drive con- 
necting great estates along the shore is a loop that winds nearly straight 
south from the center, swings west along the sole and winds back over the 
toe to the center again. 

There are three distinct Newports: the first is the blunt old center, now 
partly dependent on the army and navy bases and the summer resort; 
the second is the military and naval Newport, which lives on its own 
reservations; and the third is the opulent resort Newport behind and 
below the old center. Each of the three Newports ignores the others. 

Perhaps fortunately, the representatives of the Gilded Age who pre- 
empted the ocean shores of the city and built the palaces that at one 
period made the rest of the country bracket Newport with Babylon, 
were too grandiose in their tastes to be interested in anything as unpre- 
tentious and simple as the houses and public buildings of the old city; 
and they managed to impress the world with the idea that the ocean 
shore was the only desirable place to live or visit. Hence the old town has 
never been 'restored' to that state of professional quaintness character- 
istic of other seaboard cities that have attracted summer populations. So 
detached is the old city from the resort area that its business district has 
neither the militant neon-signed aggressiveness, the ultra-smart branches 
of New York shops, nor the other 'shoppes' of the usual recreational 

The natural attractions of Newport are great, but the city has become 
even better known for the achievements or activities of its inhabitants, 
past and present. On every hand are beautiful country seats of every 
known style and order of architecture; there are flourishing old churches 
and new ones; good libraries, and last but not least a Society, spelled 
with a large capital S. 

The population of the city is increased in summer by throngs of visitors 
and semi-permanent residents. Many of the summer residents stay for a 
long season of four months. The more fashionable season is shorter, be- 
ginning about the middle of July and ending the first of September. 
During this season the '400' fill the avenues with gorgeous turnouts, the 
harbor with yachts, the houses and clubs with elegantly dressed men and 
women. There is also a gay winter season in Newport, when families of the 
army and navy officers give dinners, balls, and impromptu entertainments. 

The main section of the city is built on a gentle slope, so that the houses 
and churches on the eastern side of the city are on much higher ground 
than those close to the harbor-front. Many of these streets are interesting 
in themselves because the old portion of the city, near the wharves, is but 
little changed from the Newport of two hundred years ago. Here are the 
same old-fashioned houses, the same crooked, narrow streets. Here and 

2OO Main Street and Village Green 

there pretentious new structures look down upon their older neighbors 
with a disdainful air, but they are not numerous enough to change ma- 
terially the face of things. Running parallel with the wharves is Thames 
Street, or the Strand as it formerly was called. It is a narrow street, with 
narrow sidewalks, lined by old high gable-roofed stores and warehouses. 
From the artery of the business section branch off many side streets 
leading to another long thoroughfare, Spring Street, which is also parallel 
to the waterfront, and lined with close-set frame houses, many of them 
preserving their eighteenth-century doorways. 

The climate of the city is healthy and delightful; the proximity of the 
ocean modifies the temperature so that it is eight to ten degrees higher in 
winter and about the same amount lower in summer than that of inland 
cities on the same latitude. 

Newport was probably named for Newport, the capital of the Isle of 
Wight, which the island of Aquidneck, or of Rhode Island, somewhat 

Newport was founded in the spring of 1639 by a small band of men under 
the leadership of John Clarke and William Coddington (see History). 
The two latter had earlier resided in Boston, where their sympathies with 
the Antinomian movement had brought them into disfavor with the 
Massachusetts authorities. With about fifteen associates, Clarke and 
Coddington left Boston for Roger Williams' settlement at Providence 
in March, 1638. Williams helped them to purchase Aquidneck, or the 
Island of Rhode Island, from the Indians, whereupon the group settled 
first near the north end of the island, in what is now Portsmouth (see 
Tour 6). With the subsequent appearance at Portsmouth of other and 
more numerous emigrants from Massachusetts, who succeeded under 
their leader, Anne Hutchinson, in gaining political control of the settle- 
ment, some of the first comers decided to locate elsewhere. 

On April 28, 1639, William Coddington, Judge; Nicholas Easton, John 
Coggeshall, William Brenton, Elders; John Clarke, Jeremy Clarke, 
Thomas Hazard, Henry Bull, William Dyer, Clerk, agreed at Pocasset 
[Portsmouth] 'to propagate a plantation in the midst of the island, or 
elsewhere,' and shortly thereafter they removed to the southern end of 

Nicholas Easton and his two sons, Peter and John, went by boat to an 
island in present Newport Harbor, where they lodged; naming it Coaster's 
Harbor Island (see Motor Tour 1). The other members of the company 
soon arrived, and all looked about for the best site of a permanent settle- 
ment. There was a swamp where Thames Street is now, so the settlers 
crossed over to the present Newport Beach. Fearing that this location 
would be unsafe for shipping, they returned to the harbor and began the 
town near the junction of what is now West Broadway and Marlborough 

On May 16, 1639, it was agreed that 'the plantation now begun at the 
s.w. end of the island shall be called Newport; and that all lands lying 

Newport 201 

northward and eastward from said town towards Pocasset [Portsmouth], 
for the space of 5 miles, and so cross from sea to sea, with all lands s and 
w, bounded with the main sea [Atlantic Ocean], together with the small 
islands and the grass on Conanicut, is appointed for the accommodation 
of said town. It is ordered that the town shall be built upon both sides 
of the spring [near junction of Broadway and Spring St.], and by the 
sea-side, southward.' 

On July n, 1639, John Clarke, Robert Jeffreys, and William Dyer were 
empowered 'to lay out all the lands for the town's accommodation; as 
also all highways, with house allotments, and the disposition of several 
farms to the persons inhabiting.' Thames Street was the first to be 
planned and was made one mile long. The first house lots were laid out 
on the north side of Washington Square : four acres were allotted for each 
house lot. 

In November, 1639, commissioners were chosen in Newport to treat with 
Portsmouth regarding a union of the two towns under a sort of federal 
government. The combination was effected in 1640. The two settlements 
agreed, in March, 1640, to be ruled by a governor, deputy governor, and 
four magistrates called assistants. The governor and two assistants were 
to be chosen from one town, and the deputy governor and two assistants 
from the other. William Coddington was elected as the first governor. 

On August 6, 1640, Robert Lenthal was invited to take up his abode in 
the town ' to keep a public school for learning of the youth.' This was the 
first school established in Rhode Island, though how long it endured is 
uncertain (see Education). 

On September 17, 1641, the town of Newport authorized Robert Jef- 
freys to ' exercise the function of Chirurgerie ' which at the time included 

When Rhode Island secured its first English charter in 1644, John Cogges- 
hall of Newport became the first chief executive of the Colony; he was 
called president rather than governor, and his assistants were William 
Coddington of Newport, John Sanford of Portsmouth, Roger Williams 
of Providence, and Randall Holden of Warwick. 

In 1651 the people of Newport were astonished to learn that William 
Coddington had secured an English patent making him governor of 
Aquidneck. The island towns reluctantly submitted to his authority, but 
sent John Clarke to England, with Williams from Providence, to have the 
Coddington commission revoked. News of the success of this mission 
arrived in February, 1653, and soon after Newport and Portsmouth re- 
sumed their former political associations with the rest of the Colony on 
the mainland. Ten years later, John Clarke of Newport was instrumental 
in securing the second Colonial charter, the King Charles Charter of 1663 
(see History). 

John Clarke was also a prominent religious leader, who assisted in found- 
ing the Newport Baptist Church, the second in America. 

2O2 Main Street and Village Green 

Shipbuilding began in Newport soon after the town was founded. A 
vessel of one hundred tons burden or more was built here in 1646 for the 
New Haven Colony. In 1649, Bluefield, a French pirate, came into 
Newport and sold a prize, but the authorities would not allow him to 
purchase a frigate he desired, fearing that he would attack their coastwise 
commerce which was then fairly well established. 

Less than twenty years after the founding of Newport, William Codding- 
ton was shipping horses to the Barbados, where some were used to furnish 
power in sugar mills. By 1675, the island farms, which have the best soil 
in the State, were furnishing exports for the middle and southern Colonies, 
the West Indies, and Europe. Wool was sent to France in exchange for 
linen; horses, beef, pork, butter, cheese, and flour went to the Barbados 
for sugar, molasses, and indigo ; and codfish, haddock, and mackerel were 
exported to the West Indies and southern Europe in exchange for salt, 
rice, and wines. 

Newport early became, as did other Rhode Island towns, a haven for 
those who left the Mother Country or other American Colonies for re- 
ligion's sake. To Newport in particular came the Quakers. On August 3, 
1657, a small vessel, the 'Woodhouse,' entered Newport Harbor bringing 
six Friends the original apostles of Quakerism on these shores. Many 
influential and wealthy people on the island embraced their doctrines, 
among whom were William Coddington, William Brenton, and Nicholas 
Easton. Quakers came to hold the chief offices in the Colony; for two 
centuries, at least, they exerted a calm and restraining influence in local 

Among the many women who became Friends was Mary Dyer, wife of 
the secretary of the Colony. In 1660 she was hanged in Boston, Massa- 
chusetts, for returning to that Colony after having been warned to 
keep her 'pernicious and dangerous doctrine elsewhere.' When George 
Fox came to New England in 1671, he made Newport his headquarters. 
Another of the early Friends was Edward Wanton, who came to Rhode 
Island from Scituate, Massachusetts, where he had quarreled with the 
minister over the obligatory support of the Congregational church. 
Wanton's two sons, and two later descendants (though not all were 
Quakers, since the later generations embraced the Episcopal faith), 
became governors of Rhode Island. 

In Colonial days, Newport was an important center of the Jewish people 
in America. The first Jews to settle in the city were fifteen families who 
came from Holland in 1658. They immediately formed a religious congre- 
gation, the Jeshuat Israel. For a century after this the Jews of Newport 
worshiped in their homes; a synagogue, still standing at 72 Touro Street, 
was built in 1763. The first group of Newport Jews brought with them 
the first degrees of Masonry, and established what is believed to be the 
first lodge of Freemasons in America. 

The early Hebrew group was augmented in 1694 by several families from 
Curacao, and in 1755 by many who were driven from Portugal by earth- 

Newport 203 

quakes. Jacob Rodrigues Rivera, who is credited with introducing the 
spermaceti industry to the Colonies, arrived in 1745 with a group of 
refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and Aaron Lopez, who became 
his business partner and son-in-law, arrived in 1752. These names are out- 
standing in the history of Jewry in America. The early Newport Jews 
were men of means and liberal education; they became prosperous mer- 
chants and flourished until the Revolution, with its British occupation 
of the city, nearly destroyed local commerce. The original Jewish colony 
then dispersed, some of its members migrating to southern States. 

When news of the restoration of Charles II to the English throne reached 
the Colony in October, 1660, Governor William Brenton of Newport 
ordered a day of thanksgiving and public rejoicing in each town. In 
Newport huge bonfires were lighted on the lime rocks, site of the present 
Ida Lewis Yacht Club; the townspeople paraded through the streets 
with a band. A figure of Oliver Cromwell was followed by a man dressed 
as Satan, with a long tail that he used to prod the Lord-Protector with, to 
the delight of the crowd. 

Benedict Arnold, great-grandfather of the Revolutionary War traitor, 
moved from Providence to Newport in 1653. He was the first governor 
of Rhode Island under the charter of Charles II, and is believed to have 
built the Old Stone Mill in Touro Park. 

In 1671, a Seventh Day Baptist church was organized in Newport. In 
1672, George Fox, the Quaker leader, preached in Newport, and Roger 
Williams, then seventy-three years old, held a debate with three Fox 
disciples at the old Quaker meeting-house in Newport. 

Newport was little touched by King Philip's War of 1675-76, save that 
many settlers to the north and west fled to the island for greater safety 
from the Indians. 

A royal custom-house was established at Newport in 1681. 

In 1687, Edmund Andros, Governor- General of the Dominion of New 
England, stopped at Newport and thereupon demanded the Rhode Island 
charter. He did not gain physical possession of the document, since 
Governor Walter Clarke had sent it to his brother to be hidden, but the 
independent government of the Colony was declared suspended (see 
History). Local self-government was resumed two years later on the 
collapse of the Dominion. 

In 1726, the printer James Franklin, brother of Benjamin, left Boston 
and came to Newport, where he sought to find greater freedom of the 
press. He did not revive his New England Courant, which had caused so 
much trouble in Boston, but printed a few pamphlets, parts of the Rhode 
Island laws, and in 1730 issued an edition of Berkeley's Alciphron. He 
used his press also for printing designs on silks, calicoes, and linens. In 
1732, he founded the State's first newspaper, the Rhode Island Gazette. 
In 1758, James Franklin, Jr., began the Newport Mercury, a publication 
that has, with one brief interruption during the Revolution, come down 

2O4 Main Street and Village Green 

to the present day, thus establishing a venerable record for continuous 

John Mumford made a survey of Newport in 1712, with a map showing 
the streets and principal buildings. The main artery was Thames Street. 
Spring Street began at Griffin, now Touro Street, and stopped a little 
south of Mary Street. The part of Spring Street from Griffin, northerly, 
was called Bull Street, and it stopped at Broad. The only streets which 
ran easterly to the crest of the hill, now at Bellevue Avenue, were Griffin 
and Mill Streets. The compact part of the town was from the town 
pound, at the head of Broad Street, to Thames Street. The public 
buildings at this time were the schoolhouse, between Queen and Ann 
Streets, and Governor Bull's house (1693) on Spring Street. The north- 
ern part of this stone building was used as a jail. The only meeting-house 
was that of the Friends, erected in 1700, which stands at 30 Marlborough 

The General Assembly of the Colony, in 1715, appropriated 289 for 
paving the streets of Newport. 

On July 19, 1723, twenty-six pirates were convicted and hanged at a spot 
a little south of Long Wharf; their bodies were carried to Goat Island and 
buried between the high and low water mark. 

The arrival in 1729 of George Berkeley, Dean of Derry, was a noteworthy 
event in the history of Newport, for the learned doctor, who took up 
residence in near-by Middletown (see Tour 6), sought to improve local 
politics, learning, and art. He brought with him a number of cultured 
gentlemen, among whom was Smibert the painter (see Art and Artists). 
Berkeley is also supposed to have suggested the formation of the literary 
society that afterward became the Redwood Library Company. 

Regarding the religious atmosphere of Rhode Island, Berkeley wrote in 
1729 to a friend in Dublin: 'Here are four sorts of Anabaptists, besides 
Presbyterians, Quakers, Independents and many of no profession at all. 
Notwithstanding so many differences here are fewer quarrels about re- 
ligion than elsewhere, the people living peaceable with their neighbors of 
whatsoever permission.' 

It was about this time that Nathanael Greene, father of the Revolutionary 
general, caused considerable gossip. While passing an evening at the 
home of one of the Wantons, many visitors dropped in, including every 
clergyman in town. A punch was prepared, and the unity of spirit which 
ensued was surprising. The Reverend Honeyman thought there was not 
half as much virtue in a surplice as he had always believed, and Parson 
Clapp concluded there was less error in the established church than he 
had supposed. The Jewish Rabbi agreed that if the Messiah had not 
already come, the sound of His chariot wheels was in the air, and the 
Baptist brethren cheerfully admitted that to or into the water was very 
much the same thing. When the party sallied into the street, 'the He- 
brew and the Episcopalian locked arms, and abandoned themselves to 
a contemplation of the heavenly bodies,' and th others 'betook them- 

Newport 205 

selves to making Virginia fences from one side of the street to the other.' 
Nathanael Greene had been ' seized with some mild affection of the knees, 
which made the assistance of a negro in going up-stairs quite convenient/ 
Next morning the ministers omitted their usual services in order to at- 
tend the Friends meeting at which Greene was to speak. The meeting- 
house was filled to capacity. At length, Nathanael Greene arose, and in 
a tremulous voice, counseled all his hearers to be temperate, especially in 
the use of strong drink. 

From 1647 to 1743, the majority of Rhode Island governors were New- 
port men. The general elections were held in Newport, although freemen 
residing elsewhere were allowed to vote by proxy. Party spirit ran as 
high then as it has since, and the guiding maxim was 'all is fair in love 
and war and elections.' It was a common practice to get freemen 'half 
seas over ' and strand them on Prudence Island far distant from the polls, 
and on one occasion it is reported a sloop filled with voters was purposely 
run on the harbor rocks 'in order to have the majority on the right side.' 

Between the years 1746-50 Newport received many Scottish immigrants, 
among them being Edward Scott, grand-uncle of Sir Walter Scott. He 
was for more than twenty years master of a grammar and classical school 
here, and was an active member of the Philosophical Society and a li- 
brarian of the Redwood Library Company. 

On June 16, 1743, the northern part of Newport was set off into a separate 
town, and named Middletown. 

In 1756, the many Negro slaves in the city, who had observed the pride 
which their masters took in their government, and the zest with which 
they strove for office and preferment, conceived the idea of imitating the 
whites by establishing a government of their own. Their election took 
place in June, and every Negro who had a pig and sty was allowed to vote. 
After the ' election ' the Negroes escorted their ' governor ' to the place of 
inaugural, at the corner of Thames and Farewell Streets. After these 
elections both the victors and vanquished united in innocent carousing. 

In 1761, there were 888 dwelling houses and 439 warehouses and stores in 

As noted above, the early industries in Newport were farming, fishing, 
and shipbuilding. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the trade 
in rum and molasses brought about an intense local activity; distilling, 
sugar refining, brewing, and the making of sperm oil and spermaceti 
candles, created a prosperous Newport. 

The one shadow on this happy picture was the African slave trade in 
which Rhode Island was more concerned than any other Colony, with 
Newport the chief Rhode Island slave center. In 1708, the British Board 
of Trade addressed a circular to all the Colonies relative to trade in 
Negro slaves, which read in part, ' It is absolutely necessary that a trade 
so beneficial to the kingdom should be carried on to the greatest advan- 
tage.' In 1707-08, the Colony laid an import tax of 3 on each Negro 
imported. The proceeds were large; in 1729, some of the money was 

206 Main Street and Village Green 

appropriated for paving the streets of Newport, and some for constructing 
bridges. The tax was repealed in 1732. 

Many fortunes were amassed in the slave trade. Fifty or sixty vessels 
were engaged in this traffic, and their owners were among the leading 
merchants of the city. 

Newport's era of greatest prosperity was from 1740 to 1775. During 
King George's War, many privateers were fitted, and sent back to this 
port over twenty prizes, some of them very valuable. In the French and 
Indian War, 1754-63, Newport had fifty vessels engaged in privateering; 
but at the same time more than a hundred merchantmen from this port 
were captured by the enemy. In spite of this, 182 vessels cleared from 
Newport for foreign voyages, and 352 for coastwise ports, between 
January i, 1763, and January n, 1764. 

The profits from commerce not only made profits for Newporters, but 
laid the base for a cultured society. The Literary and Philosophical So- 
ciety (1730) and the Redwood Library were notable creations of an in- 
tellectual sort. In the mid-eighteenth century, Newport became a 
1 Mecca ' for many aristocratic southern families who came here to spend 
the summer. These early summer colonists were mainly from South 
Carolina, Georgia, and Baltimore. They did not, like their modern suc- 
cessors, build palaces on the open shore front; rather they took up resi- 
dence in the compact part of the town where they bought or rented 
rather modest houses for their entertaining. After 1750, many wealthy 
English planters from the West Indies found their way here for extended 

In 1761, Newport was visited by a theatrical group under the direction 
of David Douglass, from Williamsburg, Virginia. They erected a tem- 
porary theater near Dyer's Cove and gave several of Shakespeare's plays. 
At this time the young ladies of Newport were said to be especially charm- 
ing for the color of their cheeks, lightness of foot, and grace of deportment. 
The fact that many of them were from Quaker families did not interfere 
with their participation in social activities. Besides the theater and teas, 
there were parties at Fort George, on Goat Island. The shops offered fine 
silks, laces, pottery, tea, and objects of art from Europe and the Orient. 

The 'first families' generally ended the summer season with autumn 
corn-husking festivals. Most of those who attended brought their slaves 
to do the real work. After a little pretense at husking, the guests would 
sit down to a magnificent feast, and then repair to the ballroom for danc- 
ing. These festivities sometimes continued several days, and while the 
masters made merry in the parlor, the slaves disported themselves in the 
kitchen and outhouses. 

Over this scene of commercial activity and social splendor fell the shadow 
of the Revolution. In 1769, when the British began an aggressive policy 
of law enforcement on the island, Newport was in the zenith of its glory; 
it would have been a rash prophet who would then have asserted that 
New York might one day equal Newport as a commercial city. The 

.Newport 207 

townspeople were well educated; many lived in substantial and hand- 
some houses; and the wealthy merchants dispersed generous hospitality 
to an ever-changing throng of visitors. The Newport of that period 
lingered in the visitors' memory as a place of gay entertainment, of scarlet 
coats and brocade, lace ruffles and powdered hair, high-heeled shoes and 
gold buckles, delicate fans and jeweled swords, delicately bred women and 
cultured men. Even in Europe the town was noted for the elegance of its 
society. Every indication seemed to point to it as a future metropolis of 
the New World. 

Few people had greater reason to fear a rupture between the Colonies 
and England than the merchants of Newport, though many of them were 
willing to adopt strong measures to secure laws more favorable to their 
interests. Trouble began in the summer of 1764, when the officer on the 
British schooner 'St. John' seized a cargo of sugar at Rowland's Ferry 
in the Sakonnet River. A group of Newporters stoned the schooner; 
and when she attempted to get under the protection of the man-of-war 
'Squirrel,' the mob went to a battery near-by and opened fire on the 
vessels. The mob dispersed when the ' Squirrel ' brought the battery under 
her broadside. In May, 1765, the 'Maidstone' came into the harbor and 
impressed several seamen from ships arriving there. One day when a brig 
from Africa was seized and the whole crew impressed by the English, an 
angry mob seized one of the ' Maidstone's ' boats and dragged it to the 
Common, where it was burned. 

In July, 1769, the ' Liberty ' brought into Newport a captured Connecticut 
brig and sloop. During the night the townspeople cut the 'Liberty's' 
cable, and, when she drifted to shore near Long Wharf, burned her. 
Shortly after the destruction of the 'Liberty/ a number of British ships 
in command of Captain James Wallace arrived in the harbor, to remain 
until after the outbreak of the Revolution. In the spring of 1776, the 
townspeople opened fire on Wallace's ships from numerous points along 
the shore and drove the fleet out of the harbor. 

On December 7, 1776, a British fleet under Sir Peter Parker sailed up the 
Sakonnet River and landed about 9000 English and Hessian troops in 
Middletown. The following day the soldiers commanded by General 
Henry Clinton and Lord Percy took possession of Newport, and held it 
for three years. This occupation dealt a serious blow to the city; some of 
its patriotic citizens fled to safety on the mainland; others, of royalist 
leanings, left with the British in 1779. The population declined from 
9209 in 1774 to 5229 in 1776, and a further decrease came later. 

In the spring of 1777, Clinton and Lord Percy departed with a part of 
the British army for New York, and General Richard Prescott succeeded 
to the command. During the summer the troops lived in tents, but in the 
winter they were quartered on the inhabitants. The town suffered the 
abuses common to a military occupation; the old Colony House was 
made into a hospital; all the churches, except Trinity and the Seventh 
Day Baptist, were turned either into stables or barracks; wharves were 
ripped up ; trees were cut down for fuel ; and nearly five hundred buildings 

208 Main Street and Village Green 

were destroyed. Newport was much less happily treated than New York 
under similar circumstances. 

In July, 1778, the French fleet under Count D'Estaing entered Newport 
Harbor, the British retiring before them. Several British ships were run 
ashore and burned. Presently Lord Howe appeared in the offing with a 
large British fleet, and D'Estaing sailed out to give battle. A terrible 
storm came on, which dispersed both fleets. After several days, the 
French squadron returned to Newport, but instead of remaining to drive 
the British off the island, D'Estaing sailed to Boston to refit his ships. 
The defection of the French disheartened the Americans who were expect- 
ing to make a joint attack from the northeast by land. The commanding 
officer, General John Sullivan of New Hampshire, ordered the Americans 
to fall back to hills in northern Portsmouth, there to await the return of 
the French. It was during this retreat, August 29, 1778, that the battle 
of Rhode Island was fought (see Tour 6). 

In October, 1779, the British troops were ordered back to New York. 
On October 25, the troops marched out of the city to Brenton's Point to 
embark. The inhabitants of the town were warned to keep inside their 
houses during the evacuation, which they did, but the moment the ships 
set sail, the people rushed down to the shore and bade the departing red- 
coats no very complimentary farewell. Upon their departure the English 
took with them the town records, many books from the Redwood Library, 
and some church bells. The vessel containing the records sank in Hell 
Gate, but some of the records were rescued. American troops reoccupied 
Newport on October 26, 1779. During the winter of 1779-80 began, under 
State authority, the confiscation of Tory estates. This winter was a 
severe one; Narragansett Bay was frozen over for six weeks and pro- 
visions were dear; wood sold for twenty dollars a cord, corn at four dollars 
a bushel, and potatoes at two dollars. 

The British possession of Newport was followed by the more pleasant 
French occupation. A fleet under the Chevalier de Ternay arrived July 
12, 1780, bringing General Rochambeau and 5088 men with provisions. 
Count D'Estaing had earlier been warmly welcomed, but his failure to 
overpower the British had shaken the confidence in French assistance, so 
the newcomers were received with some misgivings. The tact displayed 
by Rochambeau in the management of his army, however, soon dispelled 
all doubts. The French were given charge of the local fortifications, which 
they remodeled and restored. The fort on the Dumplings (Conanicut 
Island, see Tour 7 A) and the first fortifications on Brenton's Point (now 
Fort Adams) were built at this time. 

Many of the visiting officers were distinguished members of the French 
nobility, who had come to America in search of fortune or excitement; 
they found at Newport charming society, graced by women as beautiful 
as those of Versailles. One French officer described Newport as the ' only 
town on the island, with but two principal streets but still a pretty town, 
three-fourths of the houses are scattered at a distance and are in them- 
selves small farms.' 

Newport 209 

In August, 1780, nineteen Iroquois Indians came to visit the French; this 
deputation had been arranged by General Schuyler as a means of detach- 
ing the Iroquois from the English side. Rochambeau entertained them at 
dinner, and the American general Heath gave them a 'sumptuous treat/ 
The Indians witnessed a grand review of the French army, preceded by 
alternate discharges from the batteries in and around the town. On the 
birthday of King Louis XVI, the flag of France was flung to the breeze 
and the health of his majesty was drunk at length. The Indians were 
finally entertained on board the ' Due de Burgogne,' and then sent away 
with many presents. 

On March 6, 1781, General Washington came to Newport to confer with 
Rochambeau about plans for closer co-operation against the British. The 
French army marched out to receive him; never had the people of New- 
port seen such an array of military splendor as appeared on the Parade 
(now Washington Square), and Long Wharf, where the general landed. 
As he stepped on shore and was received by Rochambeau, 'Vive 1'Ame- 
rique, vive la France,' was heard on all sides. Washington wore that day 
the uniform of a marshal of France, as evidence that the French king had 
authorized his own army to act under the orders of the great American. 
That evening all the houses were lighted in honor of the commander-in- 
chief , candles being provided at public expense for those too poor to buy 
them. A grand ball was given in honor of Washington and Rochambeau 
the following evening. Much is told of the charm of Newport's fair daugh- 
ters during the sojourn of the French. It is said that sailors stopped in the 
street as Miss Redwood passed, and gazed long after she had gone. 

General plans for the Yorktown campaign were agreed upon May 26, 
1781; and the French troops began to leave Newport on June 9. 

After the Revolution, the Newporters turned their attention to improv- 
ing their economic condition. On June i, 1784, Newport was incorporated 
as a city, George Hazard being the first mayor. Then began, however, a 
financial decline; the tide of commerce was turning to New York. Many 
were impoverished by the depreciation in paper money (see History). The 
population decreased to 4000, and many families ' had emigrated to Provi- 
dence, retired with the British army, or remained broken in fortune and 
spirit.' In 1787, the town form of government was restored. 

In the early part of the nineteenth century, Newport slowly recovered 
from the effects of the Revolution; her foreign and domestic commerce 
revived somewhat. After 1791, many Irish immigrants came to the town, 
and were employed in the building of Fort Adams or at the coal mines in 
near-by Portsmouth. 

As late as 1793, there were only six brick buildings in the town, including 
the Courthouse and the Old City Hall. The reason for this was a notion 
that the humidity of the atmosphere would be absorbed by the brick, 
rendering the building unhealthy. It behooved householders to obey the 
local ordinances requiring that chimneys be kept clean, and to use every 
precaution against fire. 

2io Main Street and Village Green 

William Ellery Channing, one of Newport's illustrious sons, has left a 
good account of local society between 1793 and 1811. Townspeople were 
seldom moved to extravagant demonstrations of hilarity, he said; social 
intercourse was maintained without severely taxing the purse, as 'waste 
not, want not' was a maxim practically enforced. The restraints upon 
the young, except on 'Lection Day and July Fourth, kept them within 
bounds; and the older folks, trained in their youth to domestic duties, 
seldom sought amusement abroad. 

There were no sidewalks, and the owners of wharves could erect posts 
on the street to keep teams from damaging their warehouses. 

Funeral notices were given from the pulpits of all churches except Trinity, 
where they were announced by the sexton from the organ loft. Carriages 
were not used at funerals, the mourners preferring to walk to the cemetery. 
The procession formed in pairs the men on the right, the women on the 
left. Newly married couples were given a surprise military salute if the 
groom was a member of the artillery company. The saluting party crept 
noiselessly to the house of bride and groom, and suddenly discharged 
firearms, to the accompaniment of a fife and drum serenade. The salute 
often occasioned the breaking of many panes of glass, which the honored 
groom was expected to replace. 

At men's clubs a favorite drink was Newport Punch, composed of rum, 
lime juice, arrack, and loaf sugar. Refrigerators were wanting, so the 
recipe said, 'cool in the well.' Tea parties were common in the winter. 
The guests met about seven o'clock, the ladies wearing English cotton 
cambrics, with very short sleeves, and by way of ornament, a single 
flounce, white kid gloves, white cord stockings, and shoes with sharp- 
pointed toes. Fashion required the suppression of all naturalness ' to 
walk upright, with unbending joints; to shake hands after the pump- 
handle formula; to look inexpressibly indifferent towards everybody and 
everything; and speak only in a mincing voice was to be a decorous mem- 
ber of society.' At these gatherings, high-backed chairs were placed like 
sentinels around the room, and everyone was at liberty almost the only 
liberty that was allowed to choose a seat. No one was expected to 
speak, but after a little interval of silence, a door would open noiselessly, 
and tea and cakes would be brought in. During this repast, subdued con- 
versation was in order, and the festivities usually closed with the singing 
of 'In the Downhill of Life,' then 'Erin go Bragh,' 'Fresh and Strong,' 
'Meeting of the Waters,' and finally 'Adams and Liberty.' Slightly more 
lively entertainments were the 'Assemblies,' where minuets, contradances, 
and reels were danced with subdued enthusiasm. 

Gas illumination was introduced in Newport in 1806 by David Melville 
who lighted his residence, and Pelham Street in front of the house, in this 
manner. In 1813, he obtained a patent for the invention, and in 1817, a 
contract from the United States Government for a gas light at Beavertail 
Lighthouse on Conanicut Island. Gas lights were generally placed on the 
streets of Newport about 1852. 

Newport 211 

After November, 1807, Newport was much bothered, as were other Atlan- 
tic harbors, by the European decrees and American retaliatory acts which 
led up to the War of 1812. On the outbreak of war in June of the latter 
year, Newport suffered little at first because the English confined their 
blockade to the southern New England coast west of Narragansett Bay. 
But this was only a temporary boon; in 1813-14, though privateering 
flourished, home trade so languished that the news of peace in 1815 was 
received with thanksgiving. 

From 1815 to 1828, Newport was in a state of suspended animation; 
hardly a house was built as the town vainly hoped for the return of the 
commerce that had been its glory. In 1828, much ado was made over 
the erection of a solitary dwelling on Thames Street; even school classes 
were dismissed so children might watch the 'raising' process. About 
1825, a man named Windsor opened a girls' school for teaching the art 
of knitting lace, but the little interest manifested in the project caused 
him to convert it into a boarding-house. The next owner, a Mr. William 
Porter, named the place Bellevue Hotel; it was the first regular hotel 
for summer guests, and was reckoned quite an affair. 

About 1830, Newport began to come into some notice as a summer resort. 
Accommodations were then meager, but the visitors, principally people 
from the southern States and Cuba, enjoyed the wholesome air and fine 
bathing. The compact part of the town looked then much as it does now, 
but the high land lying a half mile east of Thames Street presented a very 
different appearance. Most of the gentle slopes now occupied by cottages 
and well-kept grounds were pasture or meadow lands. A few crooked 
lanes ran where broad drives extend, and ropewalks and carpenter shops 
were numerous. By 1836, some far-sighted men realized Newport could 
become a great watering place. It is said that a visitor who could not get 
hotel accommodations went out and bought a piece of land, contracted 
for a cottage, and a fortnight later was living in it. He liked the cottage 
idea so well that he recommended it to friends, who soon followed his 
example. These early houses were cheap structures intended to last only 
for a season, but two expensive summer homes were built before 1840 at 
the corner of Bowery Street and Bellevue Avenue. 

Some attempts were made to turn Newport into a textile town. In 1837, 
the Coddington cotton mill, a substantial structure, was erected; it was 
destroyed by fire in 1860. Two other mills built in the thirties also burned 
in the sixties. A fourth cotton mill, erected in 1835 by the Perry Manu- 
facturing Company, is still standing, but is not used for its original pur- 
pose. The Newport Manufacturing Company mill, erected in 1871 on 
Marlborough Street, is now used by the Newport Water Works. The 
Newport Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers sponsored lectures 
on industrial subjects from 1848 to 1851, but the upshot was the conclu- 
sion that Newport could only achieve prosperity as a pleasure resort. 

In 1845, three real estate men purchased 300 acres of land lying south and 
east of Touro Street, laid out streets, and planted trees for house lots. 
In 1851, one of the group, Alfred Smith, purchased 140 acres of land 

212 Main Street and Village Green 

lying south of Dixon Street, and asked the town council to extend Bellevue 
Avenue into the plot. After considerable opposition, especially from the 
Hazard family, through whose land the extension was to pass, the council 
ordered the roadway built. By 1852, twelve new summer residences had 
been erected; four of them were owned by Boston men and eight by 
families from the southern and middle States. During the next two or 
three years there was more business activity in Newport than there had 
been for two generations. Land values trebled, there was a great demand 
for cottages to rent; and during the winter of 1853-54, over sixty houses 
were built. 

In May, 1853, Newport was incorporated as a city for the second time; 
the city had three successive mayors in this year. In 1853-54 a former 
Newport boy, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, opened the ports of Japan 
to American trade (see History) . 

In 1857, when building activity had lessened, the city fathers sought to 
advertise their town. It was decided to hold a grand fete during the sum- 
mer of 1859, to which a great number of people would be invited, including 
in particular former residents of Newport who were scattered all over the 
United States. These 'Exiles from Eden' were requested to join in a 
great reunion on August 23. The scheme worked very successfully; hun- 
dreds of people came and were so delighted with the accommodations, 
the scenery, and the beaches, that many kept returning yearly thereafter. 

In October, 1861, the Newport City Council conveyed land to the Old 
Colony and Fall River Railroad Company for the construction of a rail- 
road from the city limits to the Massachusetts boundary line; the first 
train ran over the road in February, 1864. 

Following the Civil War the social life of Newport, which had been rather 
simple and restrained for more than a half century, suddenly expanded 
and became much more sophisticated. The city gradually lost much of 
its southern clientele and became the summer playground for wealthy 
northern families. The gay set of the period 1865-80 owed much to 
Mrs. Nicholas Beach, Mrs. August Belmont, and Ward McAllister, who 
were for many years untiring in their efforts in promoting the amuse- 
ments for the summer visitors. Mrs. Beach inaugurated dancing recep- 
tions, Mrs. Belmont elaborate dinners, and Mr. McAllister started break- 
fasts and picnics on a scale never before attempted. The latter were 
planned with great care. Music, flowers, and food were provided, so 
when the guests arrived they had nothing to do but enjoy themselves. 
For many years these picnics were well attended, and when enthusiasm 
waned, McAllister gave cotillion dinners at his farm. Dinner was served 
in the garden or on the lawn, after which the guests danced all evening in 
the barn that was decorated with pumpkins, sheaves of wheat, and ears 
of corn. Another form of entertainment was the aquatic picnics, which 
were held at the yacht club station and sometimes on one of the yachts 
anchored in the bay. 

A city water system for Newport was authorized in 1881. The first 
National Championship tennis matches were held in September, 1881, at 

Newport 213 

the Newport Casino; R. D. Sears won the national singles championship. 
The Newport Skating Rink, Bellevue Avenue, was opened in 1881. Roller 
skating, or parlor skating as it was then called, had been introduced in 
1866 by the New York Skating Club, that hired a hall in the Atlantic 
House for its initial exhibitions, that were attended by crowds. 

Telephones were first introduced in Newport in 1882-83. The exchange 
was owned and operated by Couzens and Bull, a local company, and in 
the summer time there were about 175 telephones in use. There were no 
directories; people would give to the operator the name of the person 
they wanted to call. The telephone was at first used largely by the 
summer colonists. 

On July 4, 1884, the second Reunion of the Sons and Daughters of New- 
port took place. The legislature authorized the city council to expend 
$3000 for the celebration, and the summer residents contributed gener- 
ously. Nearly 4000 people paraded through the streets, and the sidewalks 
along the route of march were thronged with onlookers. In a history of 
the celebration, by Frank G. Harris, is a review of the twenty-five years 
which had elapsed since the first reunion. Whole sections of the city 
had been converted from field land into summer residence lots, and the 
section around Broadway and the contiguous streets built up with com- 
fortable homes for the permanent population. Manufacturing interests 
had largely died out, yet bank deposits had increased. 

The office of Town Crier, established in 1681, was discontinued in 1885. 
On August 6, 1886, the first International Polo match was held in New- 
port. Polo had been introduced here in 1876 by James Gordon Bennett. 
The first electric trolley car in Newport ran cross-town from Commercial 
Wharf to Easton's Beach on July 30, 1889. There were strenuous objec- 
tions to the street-cars, and the Newport Improvement Society spent 
large sums in trying to secure an injunction against the road. People 
feared that the cars would frighten horses and cause runaways in the 
streets. To insure safety in travel it was for a time required that street- 
cars, before entering an intersection, come to a complete stop. The con- 
ductor would alight, walk to the opposite side of the crossways, look both 
ways, and if the streets were clear of traffic, blow a whistle three times. 
Then the car would proceed through the intersection. 

The first National Open Golf Championship Tournament was held at the 
Newport Country Club on September 30, 1895, the winner in this tourna- 
ment being Horace Rawlins of England. 

Automobiles were introduced in Newport about 1899. An automobile 
parade given on September 7, 1899, by a number of cottage residents is 
said to be the first parade of horseless carriages in the country. There 
were nineteen automobiles in the parade, prizes being won by Mrs. 
Herman Oelrichs and Mrs. Stuyvesant Le Roy. Electric runabouts were 
the most useful and fashionable cars with the summer residents, for they 
were easily managed by ladies. The society women gave pet names to 
their automobiles, such as 'Puff-puff,' 'Angelica,' and 'Toby.' 

214 Main Street and Village Green 

Probably America will never again see such lavish entertaining as took 
place at Newport during the summer seasons of the 'gilded years,' 1890- 
1914. Into six or seven weeks of each season were crowded balls, dinners, 
parties of every description, each host or hostess striving to eclipse the 
others in magnificence. Huge sums were spent in the prevailing spirit of 
rivalry. Mrs. Pembroke Jones set aside $300,000 at the beginning of 
every Newport season for entertaining, and some hostesses spent even 
more. Sometimes a single ball cost more than $100,000. So much prestige 
was attached to spending July and August at this exclusive resort of the 
period that to have neglected to do so would have exposed a definite gap 
in one's social armor. Some might talk of the charms of a summer spent 
in Europe, but their acquaintances knew that they stayed away from 
Newport because they were afraid of their social position; for Newport 
was the millionaires' playground, from which all unacceptable intruders 
were excluded by a set of ironclad though unwritten rules. 

Newport's most exclusive recreational club was Bailey's Beach. Only the 
elite could bathe here, and they disported themselves in full-skirted 
costumes and long black stockings. Mr. Van Alen always went into the 
sea wearing a monocle and white straw hat, and Mrs. Oliver Belmont 
carried a green umbrella while bathing. A watchman protected the beach 
from all interlopers; he fixed newcomers with an eagle eye, swooped down 
upon them and demanded their names. Unless they were accompanied 
by a club member, or bore a note of introduction, they were ejected. If 
they wanted to bathe, they could go to Easton's Beach the common 
beach, as the habitues of Bailey's Beach called it. There they could share 
the sea with the townspeople, referred to by the summer colonists as 
'our footstools.' 

Between the ' footstools ' and the cottagers there waged a continual war- 
fare. The townspeople despised the colonists, and boasted of their ability 
to make them toe the mark. They saw no harm in charging the idle rich 
prohibitive prices for luxuries which they must have, and then living in 
comfort for the rest of the year on the proceeds. The millionaires were 
only concerned in excluding the townspeople from the pastures which 
they considered their own. They themselves might wander in the lovely 
old town with its quaint little streets, but the inhabitants must not dream 
of venturing down Belle vue Avenue or the Ocean Drive, where they 
might catch a glimpse of the forbidden splendors of villas which were only 
occupied for about seven weeks in the year. Even the street-car was not 
permitted to invade the privacy of the Avenue, for after two attempts 
the offending lines were uprooted at the instigation of William K. Vander- 
bilt, John Jacob Astor, and others. 

Harry Lehr supplanted Ward McAllister as the Four Hundred's playboy. 
He became the Beau Brummell of the gay nineties, and aligned himself 
with Mrs. William Astor, the leader of society. They were dubbed the 
'Queen and her Jester.' Mrs. Astor reigned supreme and her decisions 
as to things social were final. She could make or break the ambitious 
climber. Much has been written about the exploits of Lehr, whose great 

Newport 215 

claim to fame was that he never failed to find ways to make a jaded world 
laugh; his freak parties have been recounted at length, his social triumphs 
commented upon, and his many eccentricities remembered. The greatest 
social event of the year was the annual ball at the Astor house. Mrs. Astor 
and Harry Lehr scanned the Social Register and decided who should 
be invited; since the Astor ballroom only held 400, the invitations were 
limited to that magic number. 

Newport Society was composed of a series of cliques, presided over by 
reigning queens, and to offend any one of them was to court disaster. 
Harry Lehr was the most popular man in each of the little cliques, and 
the first to be consulted when a party was in prospect. One day Mrs. 
Stuyvesant Fish and Lehr announced that they were to give a huge dinner 
party to the charming Prince del Drago from Corsica. On the night of 
the dinner all the guests assembled, eagerly expecting a thrill, which they 
certainly received when at eight o'clock in walked Lehr holding by the 
hand the guest of honor, a small monkey correctly attired in full evening 
dress. The dinner was a great success, but newspaper reporters accused 
Lehr and Mrs. Fish of having held up American society to ridicule. 

About 1895, the 'hen' dinner was introduced into Newport summer life 
and proved quite popular. Ladies' luncheons had been in vogue for years, 
but dinners from which the men were wholly excluded were a decided 
novelty. When life at Newport was more informal, afternoon receptions, 
which took the form of lawn parties, were much in vogue, but men finally 
abandoned them for the more formal evening entertainments. The young 
officers from the Naval Training Station were in great demand when 
extra men were required for dances or bridge parties, but the elite saw to 
it that they were never invited to a dinner party. 

Another of the decidedly 'different' entertainments was the 'Dogs' 
Dinner,' to which Harry Lehr invited about a hundred dogs and their 
masters. The menu was stewed liver and rice, fricassee of bones, and 
shredded dog biscuit. The dinner was greatly appreciated; the guests 
ate until they could eat no more, and Elisha Dyer's dachshund so over- 
taxed its capacities that it fell unconscious by its plate and had to be 
carried home. A reporter happened to crash the party and the next day 
scathing columns appeared in the newspapers. Preachers throughout the 
country denounced Lehr for wasting on dog food money that would have 
fed hundreds of starving people. After this episode, the keynote of din- 
ners was originality, not extravagance. 

The World War brought about a decided change in the character of 
Newport's summer colony. The older group of society leaders who had 
set the pace for the gayer life had been dispersed or had died. The splen- 
did dinner parties of eighty or ninety guests, elaborate cotillions, and 
the magnificent fashion parades were gone and with them passed the 
Gilded Age. A new set then sprang up, of people who had become rich 
largely through current manipulations of securities on the stock exchange. 
This society was less stable because their spending generally depended 
on the ups and downs of the ticker-tape. With the stock-market crash of 

2i6 Main Street and Village Green 

1929, this group also dispersed, to be followed by the present-day groups, 
the majority of whom keep their expenses within much more limited 

The degree in which the life of many of the summer residents of Newport 
was, to outward appearance, given to the pursuits of social enjoyments 
and ruled by fashion, tended to distract attention from the real basis of 
the city's prosperity. It was not fashion that first brought people of ex- 
pensive tastes to Newport, it was the solid satisfaction to be gained from 
its scenery, shores, and beaches. The bizarre activities of a minority 
among the summer colonists have tended to crowd more normal pursuits 
from the front pages of the press. Hence a legend has grown up that 
Newport is suited only to the fancies and caprices of unwise spenders. 
This misconception has wrought injury to the city itself. 

After the beginning of the depression in 1929, the city officials realized 
that continued prosperity for Newport depended upon the influx of sum- 
mer visitors who would not antagonize permanent residents, and on the 
improving of year-round residential conditions, especially for the families 
of Army and Navy officers and men. Building activities for 1936 indicate 
that this development is well under way ; sixty-three new homes, business, 
and semi-public structures were erected, a figure that does not include 
camps and small cottages, unsuitable to year-round occupancy. At least 
a third of the new homes were built for the families of men employed at 
the Government stations. Since 1918 the great expansion in the United 
States naval base has brought about a decided change in the character of 
Newport. Many natives who formerly worked on the large estates during 
the summer months, and were unemployed in the winter, found year- 
round employment in the naval units. During the year 1936 the naval 
stations expended $7,500,000 and employed over 3500 civilians, of which 
about 75 per cent reside in Newport and about 50 per cent are home- 
owners. The Navy has more than counteracted the decline in the very 
wealthy summer trade. 

The older part of the city is best seen on foot because points of interest 
are close together and the streets are so narrow that it is difficult to find 
parking places. In addition to the buildings named below there are many 
others with details well worth attention. Few other small cities have as 
many fine old doorways handled with such originality and inventiveness 
in many cases all that remains after alterations and additions to testify 
to the skill of the old builders. 

All but the earliest of Newport's social, economic, political, and religious 
history is mirrored in the architecture of its buildings. The dwellings 
built during 260 years show clearly the shifts in wealth and social stand- 
ards; the public structures register the political fluctuations; the churches 
make clear the religious toleration of earlier days and the more recent 
decline of religious prestige; the Redwood Library is a monument to the 
days when Newport was one of the most important cultural centers on 
the seaboard. 

Newport 217 


FOOT TOUR 1 1 m. 

1. Triangular Washington Square, sloping down in front of the new court- 
house and bounded by Touro St. and Broadway, is in the heart of the old 
city. The smooth lawn and tall trees are now enclosed by an iron fence; 
in the center is a little frame summerhouse or bandstand, and at the foot 
is a windblown bronze Statue of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, looking 
toward the harbor. 

2. Facing the sharp bottom of the Square from Thames St. is the Old City 
Hall (open weekdays 9-5), an exceptionally well-designed structure. It 
was erected by the town in 1761, on a lot given by the proprietors of Long 
Wharf, as a public granary, though it was never used for that purpose. 
Funds were raised for the structure by a lottery, and Peter Harrison was 
the architect. The red-brick building, recently restored and now occupied 
by the Chamber of Commerce, has three bays on the front and on the 
rear and seven on each side. The bays of the first story consist of arched 
openings separated by vigorously proportioned piers. Some of the side 
arches have been bricked up; others have recessed windows and doors. 
Above a brick belt-course rise two more stories, with the bays separated 
by wooden pilasters, their Ionic capitals supporting a simple entablature 
with modillioned cornice. The pilasters are coupled on the corners. 
Treatment of the second-story windows consists of triangular and seg- 
mental pediments with classic architraves. 

Almost from the beginning the first floor was used as a market and the 
upper floors were rented as offices. One stall, erected on the south end, 
was set aside for the country people. About 1761 the upper part was used 
as a printing office, and in 1793 Alexander Placide remodeled the upper 
stories and opened a theater. In 1842 the theater was renovated for use 
as a town hall. From 1853 to 1900 it was used as a City Hall, and then 
passed into disuse until 1930, when the interior was restored. 

E. from Thames St. on Touro St. along the Square. 

3. Oliver Hazard Perry House, 29 Touro St., is a plain frame building, two 
and a half stories high, built about 1755 and now much altered. During 
the French occupation of Newport (1780-81) it housed the French 
quartermaster-general, M. de Beville, and a number of his subordinates. 
In 1795, Moses Seixas established the Bank of Rhode Island in it, using 
it until 1818. In that year it was purchased by Commodore Oliver Hazard 
Perry (see Tour 1), but he resided here only a few months. It is now oc- 
cupied by the Salvation Army. 

4. Across the square (L) is the Abram Rivera House (1793), now the 
Newport National Bank, a three-story gambrel-roof house, with three 
dormers, the central one topped by a broken pediment. The third story 
overhangs on the front of the structure. Its brick chimneys are modern. 




Washington Square 
Old Colony House 
Touro Synagogue 
Historical Society 
Jewish Cemetery 
Redwood Library 
Old Stone Mill 
Prescott House 
Maudsley House 
Trinity Church 
Vernon House 
City Hall 

Friends Meeting House 
Common Ground 
Simeon Potter House 
Hunter House 
Robinson House 
Battery Park 
United States Naval 


United States Naval 

Training Station 
Ogden Goelet Estate 
The Breakers 
Marble Palace 
Land's End 
Bailey's Beach 
Brenton's Point 
Fort Adams 
Surprise Valley 
Ida Lewis Lighthouse 
King Park 

Government Landing 
Malbone Town House 
Aquidneck Park 
Miantonomi Park 
Cliff Walk 
Newport Casino 
Newport Beach 



218 Main Street and Village Green 

5. Si. Joseph's High School, 33 Touro St., a Catholic high school for girls 
opened as a parish school in 1889, is housed in a structure built before 
1775; the building has been completely modernized except for the door- 
way, which is beautifully designed with a fan-light surmounted by a 
pediment. Corinthian capitals top the engaged fluted columns. 

6. Former Zion Episcopal Church, now a movie theater, at the corner of 
Touro and Clarke Sts., is a large red-brick building with Greek-pillared 
portico; it was erected in 1834. In 1885, the property was sold to St. 
Joseph's Church, and Zion Church ceased to exist; the congregation of 
St. Joseph's moved to a new building in 1912. 

7. The new Courthouse on Washington Square is a two-and-a-half-story 
structure, built in 1926 from a design by W. Cornell Appleton. The brick 
exterior with white limestone trim conforms in architectural style to the 
old Colony House next door. The porticoed entrance is flanked by two 
guns that were used at the battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, and later 
were used as saluting guns by the Newport Artillery. A full-length Gil- 
bert Stuart portrait of George Washington hangs between the first- and 
second-floor landings. Stuart, a resident of Newport for a few years, 
was in 1800 commissioned by the General Assembly to paint two such 
portraits of Washington at the expense of the State; $1200 was appropri- 
ated to pay him and $200 for the frames. The pictures were placed in 
the Senate Chambers of the State Houses in Newport and Providence. 
The Newport picture was removed without authority from its place in 
the local State House about 1926, and hung in the new structure. 

8. The Old Colony House, or Old State House (open daily 9-4; adm. 
also at the head of Washington Square, was built in 1739 from a design 
by Richard Munday and has in recent years been carefully restored. The 
gracious two-and-a-half-story structure has an imposing facade with two 
rows of six small-paned windows framed on the first floor with brown- 
stone quoins. The facade is accented by a rusticated belt-course, by the 
double-doored entrance and, above it, by a pedimented window with 
balcony. The broken pediment is adorned with a naturalistic gilded 
pineapple and elaborate scrolls. The gambrel roof has four dormers 
separated by a truncated gable pediment containing a clock and two 
round windows. Inside the delicate balustrade rising above the dormers 
is a lantern cupola. The paneled woodwork of the interior is notable for 
its free and vigorous handling. 

The building was erected to house the deliberations of the General Assem- 
bly, but it was also used for public meetings, and religious and social func- 
tions. From its handsome second-floor balcony were officially proclaimed 
the death of George II, the ascendancy of George III, and the acceptance 
of the Declaration of Independence. During the Revolution, the British 
and then the French used the building as a hospital. French chaplains 
read Mass in the South Chamber. The first lectures in America on medi- 
cine and dentistry were delivered in the council room by Dr. William 
Hunter in 1756. From the adoption of the Constitution in 1790 until 

Newport 219 

the dedication of the New State House in Providence in 1900, the May 
sessions of the State Legislature were held here. 

9. Polly Lawton House, 67 Touro St., an old frame structure the first 
floor of which is occupied by a store, was the home of Polly Lawton, a 
beautiful Newport girl who was much admired by the French officers in 
Rochambeau's army during the Revolution. Count de Segur regarded 
Polly Lawton as ' a celestial being, and certain it is that if I had not been 
married and happy, I should, while coming to defend the liberty of the 
Americans, have lost my own at [her] feet.' 

10. Temple Jeshuat Israel, 72 Touro St., is probably the oldest synagogue 
in America. The congregation was organized in 1658 and construction 
was begun in 1759, the building being completed and dedicated in the 
year 5523 of the Jewish calendar (1763). Peter Harrison was the archi- 
tect and he combined his particular architectural style, the 'Georgian 
Colonial,' with the traditional synagogue architecture of the Spanish- 
Portuguese Jews. 

The brick structure, about 40 feet by 30, was built at an acute angle with 
the street, so that the Ark should face directly east. The exterior is 
severely plain except for the one-story entrance portico. A gallery for 
women extends around three sides, supported by columns of the Ionic 
order; Corinthian columns in turn support the roof. In the middle of the 
north side and affixed to the wall is a raised seat for the ruler and elders, 
the back inlaid with mosaic work. Wainscoted seats extend around the 
sides on both levels. Five candelabra adorn the synagogue, blending 
harmoniously with the perpetually burning lamp. Of the five candelabra 
made of brass, one has twelve branches, two have eight, and two have six. 
The most venerable object of the synagogue is the Scroll of the Sun, which 
is deposited in the Ark and contains the Five Books of Moses, written 
by hand and beautifully illuminated with silver and washed gold. By 
1769 there were six Scrolls of the Holy Law deposited in the Ark of the 
Newport synagogue; four of these are still preserved and in use. 

11. On Touro St., opposite the synagogue, is the two-and-one-half story 
Sheffield House, now the Jewish Community Center. It is an unusually 
good example of the type of structure built in the decadent stage of the 
Greek Revival, with elaborately carved Corinthian capitals on its pillared 
porticoes and a general lack of restraint in detail and proportion. 

12. Newport Historical Society Museum (open weekdays 9.30-4.30, Sat. 
9.30-12), 82 Touro St., a plain brick structure built in 1902, houses many 
relics and records, including the society's fine collection of more than 7000 
volumes and pamphlets. 

The Sabbatarian Meeting-House, or Seventh Day Baptist Church, now 
incorporated in the rear of the museum, was erected in 1729 under the 
direction of Jonathan Sabin and Henry Collins, a founder of the Redwood 
Library. The meeting-room is 36 feet long and 26 feet wide; the molding 
and paneling is hand-wrought, and the carving of the railing on the curved 
flight of steps leading up to the pulpit is of exquisite workmanship. The 

220 Main Street and Village Green 

pulpit and the sounding board are beautifully designed and executed, as 
is the clock that hangs opposite them in the gallery; this clock, made by 
William Claggett in 1731, has the original works and is still keeping time 
correctly. The tablets on the wall were presented to the church by John 
Tanner and others in 1773. 

The first Sabbatarian congregation in America was formed in Newport in 
1671 by Stephen Mumford, and this edifice is the oldest meeting-house 
of the sect in this country. Records of the church terminated about 1839. 
R.from Touro St. on Bellevue Ave. 

Bellevue Avenue, farther south, is the main thoroughfare leading through 
the estates on the eastern side of the peninsula (see Motor Tour 2). Origi- 
nally the northern end was a lane called Jew St., running from Mill St. 
to the Jewish cemetery. This was gradually extended southward, at first 
being lined with fairly simple frame summer homes. It was carried to 
Bailey's Beach in 1851, when the flimsy houses began to give way to the 
ornate palaces of stone arid brick. 

13. The Jewish Cemetery, 2 Bellevue Ave., purchased in 1677, originally 
contained only about 1200 square feet, but it was gradually enlarged to 
more than double that size. Forty-two tombstones are scattered along 
what seems to have been originally four rows of graves, within an iron and 
stone fence built in recent years. Three of these stones have no inscrip- 
tion at all; on the others the lettering is still visible, though in many cases 
the characters are so worn that it is impossible to read the inscriptions, 
which are in Hebrew, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin. Many 
stones have been lost or destroyed during the years and the oldest that 
remains dates from 1761. The cemetery is now well cared for and in the 
summer has the appearance of a beautiful garden. 

14. The Redwood Library and Athenczum (open weekdays 10-6; reading 
room open to members only), 50 Bellevue Ave., is the property of a corpora- 
tion organized as a philosophical society in 1730, and incorporated in 
1743. In 1747, Abraham Redwood gave 500 to the society for the pur- 
chase of books in London and these form the nucleus of the present col- 
lection. The inhabitants of the town subscribed 5000 to erect a building; 
Henry Collins presented the society with land; and in 1750 the original 
structure was completed. In time the society received 84 volumes from 
the English Crown and many more from Dean Berkeley; Judah Touro 
bequeathed it $3000 for the purchase of books and gave $1000 for repairs. 
In 1862, Charles B. King willed all his books, engravings and over 200 
paintings to the organization. During the Revolutionary War, the British 
General, Richard Prescott, on hearing of the exposed state of the library, 
stationed a guard to protect it from injury and depredation but on the 
evacuation by the British in 1779 the building was sacked, many valuable 
books being carried away. The society now has a fine collection con- 
taining 87,674 volumes. In the library is a Bible printed by Christopher 
Plan tin of Antwerp in 1487. Leaves were stolen from the Bible in 1848, 
but the conscience-stricken thief or his heirs returned them in 1880. 
There is a notable exhibit of paintings and statuary. 

Newport 221 

The original frame building is the front central part of the present struc- 
ture; two small wings with roofs rising to the eaves of the main structure 
and following the line of its pediment were added early; other and larger 
additions in the rear were made during the igth century. Peter Harrison 
was the original architect and the additions have in general followed his 
treatment. The original building has the lines of a Greek temple, with 
the roof extending forward to form a portico supported by four Doric 
columns 17 feet high; the tympanum is severely plain. The rusticated 
entrance wall is broken by a central doorway and two small paned double- 
sashed windows, which are duplicated in the fronts of the early wings. 
Above the door and the two central windows are three smaller windows 
with only two rows of panes, designed to increase the light in the interior. 
This early building had been altered during its long years but was restored 
to its original form in 1928. 

The grounds around the building form a charming park with paths and 
seats; on the south are botanical gardens of considerable fame, containing 
foreign and indigenous plants that were transplanted from the Abraham 
Redwood estate in Portsmouth. An unusually fine beech stands near the 

15. The Art Association Building (open weekdays 9^), 76 Bellevue Ave. 
a large, rambling frame structure, is used to exhibit the works of artists, 
sculptors, and workers in metal and other materials. During the summer, 
classes are held in painting, modeling and decorative design. There are 
also junior art classes on Saturdays. The Art Association was organized 
in 1912 by eight local artists. 

The Gushing Memorial Building, adjacent to the Art Association, houses 
a permanent collection of the works of Howard Gardiner Gushing, a 
Newport artist. 

R.from Bellevue Ave. on Mill St. 

1 6. Touro Park (L) on Mill St. just off of Bellevue, is named in memory of 
Judah Touro who gave the city $10,000 to buy and improve the grounds 
and land around the Old Stone Mill. Judah Touro (1775-1854) was the 
second son of Rabbi Touro who came to Newport about 1760 and was 
the first regular rabbi of the congregation of Jeshuat Israel (see above}] 
he had lived and made a fortune in New Orleans, and served under Gen- 
eral Jackson in the defense of that city in the War of 1812. When he died 
he bequeathed approximately $500,000 to churches and other institutions 
of many faiths in the United States, and to others in Europe. 

On the north side of the park is the roofless Old Stone Mill, a circular stone 
tower with open arches below; the supporting pillars are composed of 
flat, irregularly shaped stones, carefully laid with mortar joints. The old 
structure has been the subject of sporadic controversy for over a hundred 
years, many persons choosing to believe it a relic of the Norsemen; but it 
is now generally accepted as being the ruin of a windmill built by Benedict 
Arnold, Governor of the Colony (1663-66, 1669-72). James Fenimore 
Cooper in his ' Red Rover ' referred to it as the remains of a windmill, but 

222 Main Street and Village Green 

when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow heard of a skeleton's being dug up at 
Fall River, clad in broken and corroded armor, he connected it with this 
tower in his poem 'The Skeleton in Armor.' 

On the east side of the park is a bronze Statue of Matthew C. Perry, who 
negotiated the Japanese treaty of 1854. At the west end is a bronze 
Statue of William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), the divine and scholar 
who was born in Newport and became known as the apostle of Uni- 
tarianism. He was the son of William Channing, who was appointed a 
United States Attorney by Washington in 1791, and of Lucy, daughter of 
William Ellery, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 

During the Civil War, the midshipmen from the United States Naval 
Academy trained in this park. 

17. Tillinghast House (not open), 142 Mill St., a three-story frame dwell- 
ing, was built in 1760 by John Tillinghast, a wealthy merchant. It is a 
fine example of Colonial architecture with wide central hall and a stair- 
case enriched by spiral balusters and an open spiral newel. The wain- 
scoting is enlivened by pilasters. In 1780-81, it was used by a French 
regiment of engineers, and it is reported that the Marquis of Chastelleux 
here wrote his impressions of Newport during the French occupation. 
Gen. Nathanael Greene rented the house in 1783, and was here visited 
by Lafayette in 1784; also by Kosciusko, Baron Steuben and other distin- 
guished persons. The place was for a time the home of Colonel Archibald 
Crary, commander (1821-24) of the Second Rhode Island Regiment. 

L. from Mill St. on Touro Park to Pelham St.; R. on Pelham St. 

18. The Channing Memorial Church, 131 Pelham St., erected in 1880 in 
the English Gothic style, is constructed of rose granite with light trim 
and has a high spire. The stained-glass windows are the work of John 
La Farge. 

The Unitarians of Newport organized on October 24, 1835, and in the 
following January their society was incorporated as the Unitarian Con- 
gregational Church of Newport. In January, 1889, the society assumed 
its present name, honoring William Ellery Channing (see above). 

19. The Van Zandt House (not open), 70 Pelham St., built 1846, is a two- 
and-a-half -story white frame Greek Revival structure. The shallow 
pedimented entrance portico has four tall Corinthian columns. This was 
the home of Charles Van Zandt, Governor of Rhode Island (1877-80). 

The body of Governor Benedict Arnold, who died in 1678, is buried in the 
rear of the house, along with members of the Pelham and Bannister 
families. (Graves may be visited by permission of occupant of house.) 

20. Prescott House (not open), 56 Pelham St., is a three-story, frame build- 
ing of rather fine proportions, topped by a gambrel roof with three well- 
designed dormers; it was built before 1767 by John Bannister, a wealthy 
citizen, whose portrait, painted by Gilbert Stuart, is in the Redwood 
Library. Bannister and his family left town at the outbreak of the Revo- 
lutionary War and General Richard Prescott of the British army in 1777 
established his headquarters here. 

Newport 223 

Prescott was a haughty and tyrannical officer who treated the inhabitants 
with cruelty and disdain. It was his habit, when during his daily walks 
he saw people standing together or talking and laughing, to shake his cane 
at them and cry out, ' Disperse, ye rebels ! ' Every woman was told that 
when she met the General, she should bow low, and every man that he 
should remove his hat entirely from his head and stand bareheaded so 
long as the officer was in sight. Failure to comply with this unwritten 
law would cause the General to strike the offender, or thrust at him with 
his cane. 

21. The Langley House, 43 Pelham St., is a little one-and-a-half -story, 
frame gambrel-roof dwelling, built before the Revolutionary War. It 
was used by the British during their occupation of Newport. A poem 
entitled ' Little Old Woman in Grey House,' has given it some literary 

'There's a little old woman lives over the way 
In a gambrel roof cottage unpainted and grey 
And where the brown grape vine is clambering across 
The shingles are covered with patches of moss.' 

The vines long ago disappeared and the house has become a shop. 
L. from Pelham on Thames St. 

22. At 3 Pelham St., cor. of Thames St., is a marker indicating the house 
in front of which David Melville placed gas lights in 1806, the first in- 
stallation of the kind in the country. 

23. Bannister's Wharf, off Thames St., opposite Pelham, was a famous 
spot for many years. Fishermen always came here at dawn to peddle 
their catch of the day before, pushing it before them in wheelbarrows. 
Pitching pennies was the favorite pastime of those who frequented the 
wharf, and nothing would interrupt the game except a dog fight. Pero 
Bannister's oyster house was here; when Pero died, though he was meas- 
ured for a coffin, it happened that the box was too shallow and the lid 
would not come down on account of his nose. There was no time to make 
another coffin, so the maker cut a hole in the lid and Pero went to his 
grave with his nose poking through. 

24. The Champlin-Mason House (not open), 274 Thames St., a two-story 
frame structure, now greatly altered, was built by Philip Robinson prior 
to 1760. The lower floor is used for a store and the second for offices and 
storerooms. In 1791, it came into the possession of Christopher Champlin, 
whose daughter Peggy had the honor of being George Washington's 
dancing partner at the French Ball, March 7, 1781. The beautiful Miss 
Champlin chose for the opening number, 'A Successful Campaign,' for 
which the French officers 'with the most graceful courtesy, took the 
instruments from the musicians, and played while the couple stepped 
through the minuet.' The Prince de Broglie said, 'Miss Champlin had 
beautiful eyes, a sweet mouth and perfectly shaped face, fine figure, 
pretty foot, and an air altogether attractive.' The house was later 
occupied by Doctor Benjamin Mason, who married the popular young 

224 Main Street and Village Green 

woman. Doctor Mason was director and purveyor-general of the Military 
Hospital in Rhode Island. In this house Oliver Hazard Perry courted 
Dr. Mason's daughter Elizabeth, who became his wife, and here he was 
greeted upon his triumphant return from the Battle of Lake Erie (1813). 
Several years later the funeral cortege bearing the remains of Commodore 
Perry paused at the door for the family to take its place in the procession 
behind the boat-shaped hearse. 

L. from Thames on Franklin St. to Spring St.; L. on Spring St. 

25. The Maudsley House, 228 Spring St., is one of the finest Georgian 
Colonial houses in Newport. It is distinguished by its pleasing propor- 
tions, sensitively executed exterior detail and its broad gable-on-hip 
roof broken by the characteristic three front dormers and two lofty 
chimneys. It is situated on a sloping corner lot, now much smaller than 
formerly. The fenestration along the John Street facade reveals that its 
ground floor is planned on two levels, the windows being stepped up with 
the grade of the side street. The exterior of this two-and-a-half story 
structure has bead-edged clapboards, painted white, with narrow paneled 
pilasters at the corners. The most notable feature of the facade is the fine 
pedimented doorway; the paneled door is flanked by engaged, delicately 
fluted, Corinthian columns. The crowning pediment and entablature is 
embellished with modillions and rosettes. Perhaps the most unusual 
features of its design are the delicately molded transom rail, which carries 
the lines of the abacus of the caps, the narrow fluted trim around the door, 
and the semicircular fan-light. 

Captain John Maudsley was an eighteenth-century merchant and 
privateersman, noted for his hospitality. Strangers participated of his 
bounty and the blessings of the poor rested on his head. In 1795 the 
house was purchased by Caleb Gardner, who had a Negro slave named 
Newport, a remarkable character who organized a sort of church known 
as the 'Union Society for General Improvement.' 

26. The United Congregational Church, 198 Spring St., is a spacious 
brownstone edifice, erected in 1857. The First Congregational Society 
was organized in Newport in 1720; after dissension a second congregation 
was organized eight years later. In 1833 the two societies reunited and in 
1857 dedicated this building to the worship of the Triune God. 

27. Trinity Church (open; apply to sexton), 141 Spring St., is a frame 
edifice built in 1725 under the supervision of Richard Munday. It re- 
sembles the Old North Church in Boston, Mass., being a simple high 
rectangular structure with two tiers of circular-headed windows with 
blinds. The square steeple consists of a tower, an arcaded belfry, a lan- 
tern, and a slender white spire, surmounted by a gilded crown that Revo- 
lutionary patriots forgot to remove. A bell, the first church bell to ring 
out in New England, is preserved in the church; it was given to the con- 
gregation in 1709 by Queen Anne but was injured in 1805 and the metal 
was recast. Queen Anne also donated the communion service. The rear 
of the church is on Spring St. and the steeple end is in the rear of the 

Newport 225 

present yard; the church formerly faced a long open sweep of greensward 
running down to the harbor. 

Inside, the square, old-fashioned box-pews face a 'wine-glass,' or three- 
deck, pulpit, the only one of its kind in New England and the only remain- 
ing pulpit used by Bishop Berkeley. The top is reached by a winding 
staircase that brings the preacher almost on a level with the galleries 
running around three sides of the structure. The lesson-desk is on the 
second level and the bottom desk is used by the clerk when giving out 
the hymns and psalters. In early times officers sat in the rear of the 
church, those of higher rank on one side and the subordinates on the 
other; sections of the gallery were reserved for slaves and prisoners. 

The interior is liberally paneled. Beautiful brass chandeliers hang from 
the ceiling, one of them bearing the inscription 'Thomas Dres, Exeu. 
1723'; they still carry candles. Memorials have recently been placed on 
the walls, many of them to Revolutionary soldiers. 

The central part of the organ, now added to and renovated, was pre- 
sented to the church by Bishop Berkeley in 1733; he had first offered it 
to the town of Berkeley, Mass., but the selectmen there had voted that 
' an organ is an instrument of the devil for the entrapping of men's souls ' 
and had refused the gift. The organ is still surmounted by the crown of 
England, with a bishop's mitre on either side. 

The date of the organization of the Trinity congregation is uncertain. 
It was from the first, however, under the jurisdiction of royal authorities 
and it is known that Colonel Francis Nicholson, a zealous churchman, 
former Lieutenant Governor of New York, and later Royal Governor in 
several American Colonies, came to Newport in 1694 and assisted in 
securing a rector for the flock. A petition was forwarded to the Board of 
Trade by Lord Bellomont in 1699 asking for assistance in maintaining a 
clergyman; Bellomont added that he hoped this would be 'the means to 
reform the lives of the people in that Island and make good Christians 
of 'em.' 

During the Revolution local feeling here, as elsewhere, ran high against 
the Established Church; many of the members of the congregation had 
been Tories, or were lukewarm to the Revolution. Soon after the British 
evacuation, two American officers, followed by some young men of the 
town, entered the church and tore down the king's arms, supported by the 
lion and the unicorn, that had stood before the east window; handsomely 
painted and gilded, they had been considered the most important decora- 
tion of the church. The hotheads carried them publicly and with great 
ceremony through the town to the North Battery, where they first set 
them up as a target for the crowd to fire at and then threw them on a 
huge bonfire. 

In the ancient burial place adjoining Trinity Church are the graves of 
the French Admiral de Ternay, who died in 1780, and of Chevalier de 
Fayelle, aide-de-camp to Lafayette. Here also lies Lucia, daughter of 
Bishop Berkeley. On eight stones are the arms of five families; Gidley, 

226 Main Street and Village Green 

Wanton, Bell, Goulding, and Gibbs, representing a few of the wealthy 
merchants of Newport in the i8th century. The oldest stone is that of 
Thomas Fox, who died in 1707. 

L. from Spring on Mary St.; R. from Mary on Clarke St. 

28. The Vernon House (open weekdays 9-5), 46 Clarke St., now occupied 
by the Family Welfare Society, is a two-and-one-half-story frame struc- 
ture of Georgian type with rusticated wood-block treatment. It is circled 
with two rows of windows, and has ten dormers projecting from the gable 
roof. The details of the front door and cornice are authentically Georgian. 
The rear approach is as interesting as the front, with its low door under 
the stair landing and the finely proportioned arched window looking out 
upon a former garden. It is impossible to know how much of the interior 
is in its original state as it has been altered from time to time. Recently 
some very old murals of Oriental design were uncovered when the panel- 
ing in the north room was removed. 

The house was built in 1756 by Metcalf Bowler, later Chief Justice of 
the State Supreme Court, and came into the possession of William Vernon 
in 1773, remaining in the family until 1872, which accounts for its excel- 
lent condition. Vernon (1719-1806), a wealthy merchant and ship owner, 
was president of the Eastern Navy Board during the Revolutionary War 
and rendered invaluable service in organizing the American Navy. 
Count de Rochambeau and a brilliant group of Frenchmen occupied the 
house in 1780-81, among them Count de Fersen, a lover of Marie An- 
toinette. George Washington visited Rochambeau here on March 6, 1781, 
to discuss future campaigns against the English. As Washington was 
about to enter the house a little fellow held in his father's arms called 
out, 'Why, father, General Washington is a man.' Overhearing the re- 
mark the general replied, * Yes, my son, only a man.' 

29. The Washington Allston House (private), 31 Clarke St., is a two- 
story frame structure built prior to 1800. Allston (1779-1843) the artist, 
though not a native of the State, lived here for several years. 

30. Newport Artillery Armory (open on application to commanding officer 
on premises), 23 Clarke St., a large granite structure, erected in 1836, is 
the home of the Newport Artillery Company; chartered in 1741. It was 
the second artillery company organized in the New England Colonies and 
was modeled on the plan of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Com- 
pany of Boston, which was established in 1638. The Newport Artillery 
has seen service in all wars of the country since it was organized. The 
old armory contains many historical papers and guns, a painting of 
George Washington by Jane Stuart, locks of hair from both General 
Washington and the Duke of Wellington, and the flag that was flown by 
Oliver Hazard Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie. 

31. The Central Baptist Church, 15 Clarke St., a frame structure sur- 
mounted by a steeple, was erected in 1733 by the Second Congregational 
Society. When the church was used for barracks during the British 
occupation of Newport, the pews, pulpit and fixtures were destroyed. 

Newport 227 

In the early days of the church it was customary for merchants to gather 
outside to discuss business affairs until the introductory prayer had been 
offered; then they would scuffle up the aisles to their seats, unaware of 
having caused any disturbance. As these were the influential men who 
held the purse-strings of the church, the minister did not find a way of 
rebuking them; however, William Ellery, an old member of the parish, 
said to them one day in a bland voice, ' Gentlemen, I perceive that you 
do not like short prayers.' They replied, 'Oh yes, we prefer such.' 'Well,' 
said Ellery, ' I cannot understand how that can be, when you never come 
in time to hear one.' His rebuke was effective. 

In September, 1847, the structure was purchased and dedicated by the 
Baptists who added a then-fashionable adornment to the simple facade 
appliques of jigsaw work in a design reminiscent of the paper lace on 

32. The Henderson Home, 31 Clarke St., a two-and-a-half-story frame 
structure with gambrel roof and two dormers, was erected about 1 733 and 
since then has been considerably altered. It was used as the parsonage 
of the Second Congregational Church. It was the home of the Reverend 
Ezra Stiles, one of the most learned men of his time, who lived here from 
1755 to 1776, taking a leading part in the cultural activities of the town. 
He left Newport for a brief pastorate at Portsmouth, N.H., and became 
President of Yale College in 1777. The house, which has nearly its original 
lines, is now a home for the aged. 

L. from Clarke on Touro St. to Washington Square. 

FOOT TOUR 2 1.2 m. 

N. from Washington Square on Broadway. 

33. The Wanton-Ly man-Hazard House (open daily on application to 
Newport Historical Society, 82 Touro St.; adm. 25^f), 13 Broadway, is a 
two-and-a-half-story frame house, almost square in plan, with a broken 
gabled roof and in the rear a two-story lean-to. A heavy plain cornice 
extends the length of the house on the front, and a central capped and 
pilastered chimney rises from the center of the ridge. The main entrance, 
approached by double brownstone steps guarded by an iron rail, consists 
of a dark, paneled door that is surmounted by a plain pediment supported 
by two plain pilasters. Two tiers of windows with shutters encircle 1 the 
house, and three pedimented dormer windows ornament the front of the 
roof. This dwelling, built about 1675, or somewhat later, is the oldest 
house in Newport. The general appearance and especially the huge pi- 
lastered chimney suggest that it was a place of considerable pretentious- 
ness at the time it was erected. Within are curious twisting staircases, 
and an old kitchen fireplace with crane still in position. 

Joseph Wanton was governor of Rhode Island, 1769-75, when he was 

228 Main Street and Village Green 

deposed because of Royalist leanings (see History). When he died in 
1781, this house, along with his other property, was confiscated. Later 
the house was restored to those of his descendants who had been faithful 
to the cause of independence. Daniel Lyman, Chief Justice of the State 
Supreme Court, married a daughter of John Wanton, a wealthy merchant 
and son of Governor Gideon Wanton. A daughter of Daniel Lyman 
married Benjamin Hazard, a prominent member of the Rhode Island bar. 
Dr. Thomas Moffat, a Scotch physician, resided here in 1765, when feeling 
was strong against the Stamp Act. On August 26, effigies of Moffat, of 
Augustus Johnstone, a stamp distributor, and of Martin Howard, a 
lawyer, all of whom had incurred popular odium by supporting Parliamen- 
tary measures, were drawn through the streets, hung on a gallows in front 
of the Court House, and in the evening were cut down and burned by a 
mob. The next day the homes of the three men were plundered, and they 
fled on board the British sloop 'Cygnet.' Revenue officers, fearing for 
their lives, closed the custom house and took refuge on the same ship. 
R. from Broadway on Stone St.; L. from Stone St. on Spring St. 

34. The First Baptist John Clarke Memorial Church, 30 Spring St., 
built in 1846, is a spacious frame edifice, square in plan, with a tower that 
rises about 20 feet above the peak of the roof. The congregation, the 
second Baptist society organized in America, was established by John 
Clarke, one of the founders of Newport, in 1644. The doctrines that 
John Clarke expounded were those of the English Particular Baptists, who 
believed that atonement was 'particular,' or individual. There is little 
doubt that he was author of the confession of faith and purpose that was 
the foundation, not only of the Baptist Church of Newport, but of the 
civil government of the Colony. John Clarke continued to minister to the 
Newport congregation until his death in 1676, when he was succeeded by 
Obadiah Holmes (see Tour 5). The great-granddaughter of Obadiah 
Holmes was the great-grandmother of Abraham Lincoln. 

Continue from end of Spring St. on Broadway. 

35. City Hall, 47 Broadway, a four-story granite structure, was built in 
1900. In 1925 it was partly destroyed by fire, but was soon restored and 
it is now one of the most imposing public buildings in the city. 

36. Townsend Industrial School, 59 Broadway, a two-and-a-half-story 
brick building, was erected in 1894, and named in memory of Ella Town- 
send who bequeathed the city the lot on which the school stands. It is 
the outgrowth of the Katherine Wormely Industrial School for Girls, 
established in 1847, which, since 1894, has served as an industrial school 
for the public school children of the city. 

37. Saint Joseph's Church, 77 Broadway, was dedicated on September 8, 
1912. This Romanesque edifice is of cream-colored brick, with terra- 
cotta trim, and a foundation of granite. The three fine altars are of 
Carrara marble; the main altar consists of a high dome surmounted by 
a Celtic cross; beneath this and above the tabernacle is another dome. 
The reredos is done in panel work; above it, at either end, stands the 

Newport 229 

figure of an angel trumpeter. Below the table is a sculptured stone repre- 
sentation of the Last Supper. The floor of the sanctuary is of marble and 
the altar rail of bronze. Beneath each wooden cross on the side is a mosaic 
portraying an event in the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Stained- 
glass windows from Munich present events in the life of Christ and the 

38. The First Presbyterian Church, 151 Broadway, a brownstone edifice 
of Romanesque architecture, was built in 1892. The congregation was 
organized as a branch of the United Congregational Church in 1884, but 
in 1888 turned Presbyterian. In front of the church and in the center of a 
triangular grass plot is a Civil War Memorial a soldier and a kneeling 

39. The Count de Rochambeau Monument, 155 Broadway, dedicated July 
13, 1934, is a life-size bronze statue of Rochambeau set on a granite base. 
Bronze tablets on the base describe highlights in Rochambeau's life while 
in Newport. The figure is a replica of Fernand Hamer's statue of Rocham- 
beau in Vendome, France. 

L. sharply from Broadway doubling back on West Broadway. 

40. Equality Park, in the junction of these highways, is a small triangular 
grass plot in which boats of the British sloop 'Liberty' were burned in 
July, 1769. In the center of the park is the Spanish- American War Me- 
morial, a bronze statue of Victory with sword in hand. 

41. The John Clarke Family Cemetery, 62 West Broadway, a small burial 
ground surrounded by a high cement-block wall, holds the grave of John 
Clarke (see above). 

R. from dead-end of West Broadway on Marlborough St. 
This is the oldest section of Newport. 

42. The Friends Meeting-House, 30 Marlborough St., now a dilapidated 
recreation hall, was built in 1700 and subsequently enlarged. The old 
part, the middle section, is about 45 feet square and has two galleries, 
one above the other. The builder's name is found in many places under 
the shingles, and reads: 'John Jones, the King's own, in the year of Our 
Lord, 1700.' 

There was a Friends Meeting-House before this one, built probably 
about 1658, on the east side of Farewell Street, opposite the Coddington 
burial place. It was torn down in 1705, and some of the material was 
worked into what is the north room of the present meeting-house. 

43. The Jonathan Nichols House (not open), 42 Marlborough St., cor. of 
Farewell St., is a two-story frame structure built in 1730, and known as 
the White Horse Tavern. The General Assembly of the State of Rhode 
Island is said to have met in its parlors at times for the convenience of 
the legislators. Little changed in form, it is now a private residence. 

R. from Marlborough St. on Farewell St. 

44. The Governor's Cemetery, 50 Farewell St., a small shallow plot of 

230 Main Street and Village Green 

ground in front of buildings, contains the graves of several early colonists 
of Rhode Island, including Henry Bull, Nicholas Easton, John Easton, 
and William Coddington. 

45. Farewell St. passes the Site of a Liberty Tree (L), used as a rallying 
spot for pre-Revolutionary demonstrations. The site is now a small, 
nearly bare triangle. 

R. from Farewell St. on Warner St. 

46. The Common Ground, 24 Warner St., oldest public cemetery in New- 
port, was laid out about 1660. The slate headstones with their rudely 
carved inscriptions are to the rear, behind more modern stones. Many 
stones here are memorials to sailors lost at sea. The cemetery contains 
20 stones with family armorial designs; these lie flat on the ground, and 
have suffered considerable mutilation. 

47. The Island Cemetery, 30 Warner St., was laid out and landscaped, 
1836-44. Here are memorial monuments to Oliver Hazard Perry and 
Matthew Calbraith Perry. 

MOTOR TOUR 1 3.5 m. 

W. from Thames St. on Long Wharf. 

Thames Street, or Main Street as it formerly was and is sometimes even 
now called, is a straight, narrow thoroughfare. In 1699 the street was 
known as the Strand, the general name for the waterfront. It is the main 
artery of the village, extending through the business center of the city. 

Long Wharf was in existence as early as 1685; on the Mumford Map of 
Newport it is called Queenhithe, an old English name for a haven for 
boats. Here the French troops were reviewed by General Washington 
and Count Rochambeau, and along this narrow highway the funeral 
cortege of Admiral de Ternay slowly wended its way in 1780. In the early 
days of the Colony it was customary for butchers to drive steers to this 
wharf, where the townspeople would cluster around and, with a piece of 
chalk, mark on the steers the portions of meat they desired. When a 
steer was well marked up he was killed and the buyers bore their pur- 
chases away. This roadway offers a broad view of the inner harbor and the 
waterfront of the city. 

R. from Long Wharf on Washington St. 

48. The Simeon Potter House (not open), 31 Washington St., is a large 
frame gambrel-roof building, two-and-a-half stories high. In this house 
was held Newport's first free school, founded in 1815 by the Trustees of 
Long Wharf. It was financed by the proceeds of a $25,000 lottery, part 
of which was used to rebuild Long Wharf. When the purpose of the 
lottery came to the attention of Simeon Potter he donated the house and 
some other property to the school. Accommodations were provided for 

Newport 231 

about 50 pupils, and the school was opened with Captain Joseph Finch 
and his wife in charge. The Potter School was discontinued in 1834. 

49. The Hunter House (open by permission), 54 Washington St., one of 
the most celebrated residences in Newport and since 1917 a convent of the 
Sisters of St. Joseph, was built in 1757 by Deputy-Governor Jonathan 
Nichols. It had a beautiful, broken-pedimented doorway, with a pine- 
apple motif, designed by Peter Harrison, but this has been taken to 
St. John's Rectory a short distance north on Washington St. 

Joseph Wanton, Jr., deputy-Governor, 1764-65, was the next to own this 
house, but being a Loyalist he fled to New York during the Revolution, 
where he died in 1781. In the summer of 1780, Admiral Chevalier de 
Ternay of the French fleet made his headquarters here. The house has a 
staircase, going through three stories, that has figured in several novels. 
According to one story, it was built so that the owner could easily reach 
his liquor supply in the attic. Another tale has a clandestine love affair 
depend on the staircase. The interior is beautifully paneled and contains 
a marble fireplace and several with Dutch tiles. 

50. The Henry Collins House (not open), 62 Washington St., a two-and- 
a-half-story frame structure with gambrel roof, was built in 1750; it 
later came into the possession of George Rome, a wealthy Tory whose 
property was confiscated during the Revolution, and it was for a time 
occupied by Jane, daughter of Gilbert Stuart, who lived here with her 
mother. In 1780-81 the house was used as headquarters of the French 

51. Robinson House (private), 64 Washington St., a very simple two-and- 
a-half-story frame structure, was built about 1760 by Tom Robinson, a 
Friend. Viscount De Noailles was quartered here when he visited New- 
port in 1780, and upon his return to France sent to Mrs. Robinson a 
beautiful Sevres tea set that is in the possession of the present occupant, 
a great-granddaughter of Mrs. Robinson. 

52. Narrow Battery Park, which runs along the harbor (L), was the site 
of Fort Greene during the Revolutionary campaign, and is an ideal spot 
from which to view the bay and the numerous yachts and warships lying 
at anchor offshore. 

To the north is seen Gould Island and to the west Rose Island (Govern- 
ment reservations, not open to public). Gould Island is a U.S. Navy seaplane 
base, and Rose Island is used for storage purposes. On Rose Island are 
the remains of earthworks thrown up in Revolutionary days, and kept in 
condition until 1801. These old earthworks, called Fort Hamilton, are 
visible from the Newport- Jamestown Ferry (see Tour 7). 

Many of the Washington St. houses belong to the day when every New- 
port matron had India shawls, Turkey carpets, China silks, and sandal- 
wood boxes, and fortunate Newport children had monkeys and parrots 
for pets, gifts brought home by the captains and crews of Newport-owned 
ships. These houses were the homes of people who lived comfortably and 
entertained freely, cosmopolitans who were free from the provincial preju- 

232 Main Street and Village Green 

dices found in American communities with less contact with the world 
far beyond their doors. 

R. from Washington St. on Cypress St. 

53. Left is the United States Naval Hospital (open to visitors 8-4.30), one 
of three hospitals on the Atlantic coast provided for by Congress in 1910; 
it was opened April, 1913. Thanks to its situation, the hospital provides 
the sick with a quiet environment, healthful climate, and when the 
patients are well enough to appreciate it, a delightful view. The hospital 
building, which fronts on Narragansett Bay, has walls of tapestry brick 
with terra-cotta trim, and stands on 15 acres of beautiful, well-kept land. 
The hospital also cares for sick and disabled ex-servicemen. 

L. from Cypress St. on Third St., which becomes Training Station Rd. and 
crosses a causeway to Coaster's Harbor Island. 

54. United States Naval Training Station (open; no cameras permitted; 
drill on parade ground Thurs. 2.15), 1.9 m., on Coaster's Harbor Island, 
is the birthplace of the naval training system of this country. In 1863, 
Lieutenant Stephen B. Luce (1827-1917), later a Rear Admiral, became 
a strong advocate of a naval training system, and his enthusiasm for 
British training methods resulted in the establishment of an American 
training service for enlisted men that at first employed a squadron of 
three vessels; a second move was the securing of a shore headquarters. 
During the Civil War the United States Naval Academy had been tem- 
porarily transferred to Newport. In December, 1880, the citizens of New- 
port voted to cede Coaster's Harbor Island to the Federal Government, 
an action ratified by the State in the following year, and in 1883 the island 
was designated as a Naval Training Station by the Navy Department. 
The station has over 100 buildings, most of them substantial and im- 
pressive structures. 

The U.S.S. Constellation, attached to the Training Station, is a 36-gun 
frigate authorized by Congress in 1794. This full-rigged vessel, 161 feet 
in length and carrying a i67-foot mainmast, saw initial service in the 
unofficial war with France, 1798-1800, and next took part in the Medi- 
terranean operations, 1801-05, against the Barbary pirates. In 1840 
the ' Constellation ' was sent out to the Far East to protect United States 
interests in China. After long service in many parts of the world it be- 
came a receiving ship, being stationed at Norfolk and Philadelphia, and 
then at Annapolis as a practice ship for midshipmen in the U.S. Naval 
Academy. One hundred years after her keel was laid, the historic frigate 
arrived at Newport. 

The Naval War College on Coaster's Harbor Island owes its founding 
largely to the efforts of Lieutenant Stephen B. Luce, who became its first 
superintendent. About 1877, when the Civil War navy had been per- 
mitted to disintegrate, Luce began urging a postgraduate course for com- 
missioned officers in order that they might become acquainted with 
strategy and the higher branches of their profession. His views received 
little sympathy, but the War College was opened in 1884, in the building 


RHODE ISLAND was settled by religious non-conformists 
of all sorts; five sects had become prominent by the end of the 
Colonial period, and another, Roman Catholicism, grew to 
strength in the nineteenth century. The Baptist faith, which 
should be given first place in this group for chronological rea- 
sons, is represented by a photo of the First Baptist Church at 
Providence, in the architectural section of our illustrations. 

The Congregational Church at Slatersville is an excellent ex- 
ample of the simple but impressive structures to be seen in 
countless New England villages. The Friends Meeting-House 
at Newport is a symbol of the influence of Quakerism in early 
Rhode Island. Newport's old Jewish Cemetery stands a short 
distance from Temple Jeshuat Israel, or the Touro Syna- 
gogue, housing a congregation organized in 1658. The Roman 
Catholic church shown is in the predominantly French-Cana- 
dian city of Woonsocket. 



._ _. 





Newport 233 

that is fiow the administrative office of the Training Station. The college 
was housed in the Torpedo Station until 1889, when a new building was 
erected, an imposing granite structure on the brow of the hill on Coaster's 
Harbor Island, overlooking Narragansett Bay. This building, now 
weathered, is known as Luce Hall; two wings have since been added, one 
called Pringle Hall, honoring a former president of the college, and the 
other a library. Officers of the teaching staff are selected from the gradu- 
ates of the college, from officers of the line, and from the Army and 
Marine Corps. The duration of the course is eleven months. 

MOTOR TOUR 2 11 m. 

E. from Bellevue Ave. on Narragansett Ave.; R. from Narragansett Ave. on 
Ochre Point Ave. 

This 1 1 -mile highway loop connects up the estates of the area that in the 
last half of the igth century shared with Fifth Avenue, New York City, 
the scenes of that spectacular effort of America's first big crop of million- 
aires to establish themselves as the top crust of the social pie. Just as the 
returning generals and colonial administrators of ancient Rome, the new- 
rich of the Roman Empire, spent fabulous sums reproducing the art works 
of the older Greek civilization and sent their antique-dealers scurrying to 
the older cities to buy up statues by Praxiteles and other choice bits to 
adorn their show-places, so the new American millionaires built elegant 
copies of the chateaux and palaces of Europe, or, more often, grotesque 
combinations of the most expensive and ornate features of half a dozen 
of them, and raided Europe for ornaments and furnishings. Many of these 
structures remain along the drive, weathered now and softened by thick 

Unable to buy titles in a democracy, the new social leaders did the next 
best thing married their daughters to European peers and noblemen. 
Newport was the scene of many of the lavish events in these international 
courtings and marriages that made daily wonder-stories for an admiring 

In 1649 the discovery of iron pyrite on Ochre Point, then called Taylor's 
Point, made a sensation among the colonists, who thought they had 
discovered gold and dreamed happily until samples sent to England were 
analyzed as valueless. Later yellow ochre was discovered, and experi- 
menters tried unsuccessfully to make paint out of it. 

55. At 0.5 m. (L) is the Ogden Goelet Estate, in French chateau style, 
with a mansard roof, and a formal wrought iron gate. 

56. The Breakers, 0.8 m. (L), or the Countess Szechenyi Estate, is a 
pretentious palace of Caen stone with red tiled roof. The original house, 
owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, was burned in 1893. Soon afterward 
$3,000,000 was spent to make the present mansion the most striking and 

234 Main Street and Village Green 

magnificently appointed of Newport 'cottages.' This three-and-a-half- 
story stone structure, of which R. M. Hunt was the architect, has on one 
side a semicircular porch resembling the apse of a cathedral. The center 
of the house has a two-story loggia facing the garden. The interior is 
embellished with mosaic work and carved stone. Some of the interior 
walls are finished in light-green Cipollino marble. A mosaic in one of the 
ceilings portrays a bathing chamber in ancient Pompeii. The loggias and 
the tympani of the arches are decorated in Italian Renaissance designs. 
The estate was bequeathed by Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt to her niece, 
the Countess Szechenyi, wife of the Austro-Hungarian charge d'affaires 
to the United States in 1906. 

Among the most famous entertainments of the iSgo's was Grace Vander- 
bilt's 'Fete des Roses.' The lawns of Beaulieu, the Cornelius Vanderbilt, 
Jr., estate, were lighted by myriads of shaded fairy lamps, and red roses 
were everywhere, massed in gigantic baskets or hanging in festoons. The 
entire theatrical company of ' Red Rose Inn ' which was having an enor- 
mous success in New York was engaged on a request performance. This 
involved closing the theater in New York for two nights, but the Vander- 
bilts could afford to entertain royally. 

R. from the end of Ochre Point Ave. on Ruggles Ave.; L. from Ruggles Ave. 
on Bellevue Ave. 

57. The Marble Palace, 1.7 m. (L), the home of Frederick Prince, was 
designed by Richard M. Hunt, who also designed Biltmore, the Vander- 
bilt palace in Asheville, N.C. It is in the Renaissance vernacular. An 
imposing Corinthian portico, extending to the roof, dominates the front. 
The exterior is of white Rutland marble and stone from Caen, France. 
A curved balustraded driveway hides the base of the portico. The front 
doors are protected by ornate Louis XIV metal gates that cost more than 
$50,000, and required the labor of 50 men for more than a year. They are 
25 feet wide by 16 feet high and are of bronze and iron, with gold leaf on 
the inside. The vestibule of the house has walls and floor of yellow French 
marble, with a paneled ceiling 60 feet high supported by heavy columns. 
The dining-room from floor to ceiling is finished in different shades of 
Numidian marble, carved with figures in bas-relief. The walls of the 
drawing room blaze with crystal and gold. The walls and ceiling of the 
mistress' chamber are of carved black walnut with padded silk panels. 
The master's chamber is finished in light woods. The portable furnishings 
of the house are worth more than a million dollars. 

At 2.3 m. L. from Bellevue Ave. on Ledge Rd. 0.3 m. 

58. CoggeshalVs Ledge, or Land's End, at the end of the road, is a spot 
that can scarcely be surpassed for sea-views. To the right, weather per- 
mitting, is seen the west shore of Rhode Island and in the distance is 
Block Island; on the left the sea is bounded by a long cliff. The blue ocean 
is usually dotted with steamers and white sails. 

Retrace on Ledge Rd.; L. on Bellevue Ave. and at 2.4 m., L. from the end of 
Bellevue Ave. on Ocean Ave. 

Newport 235 

59. At 2.5 m. (L) is the exclusive Bailey 1 s Beach (not open to public). 

60. Crossways, or the Stuyvesant Fish House, 2.8 m. (R), is a large, 
white Colonial-style mansion, designed and built by Stuyvesant Fish in 
1898. This house was the center of gaiety at the turn of the century, its 
mistress being one of the most ingenious hostesses of the Four Hundred. 
The spacious dining-room, which seats 200 guests, and the enormous 
ballroom were the scene of Mrs. Fish's Harvest Festival Ball, the annual 
entertainment ending the Newport social season. When Grand Duke 
Boris of Russia visited Newport, Mrs. Fish issued invitations for a dinner 
and ball in his honor; the night of the ball the Duke was detained by Mrs. 
Ogden Goelet, Mrs. Fish's rival as social leader, at whose home he was 
staying. About 200 guests had assembled in the hall at Crossways, and 
when the hour for dinner approached and there was no sign of the Duke, 
Mrs. Fish announced that the Duke was unable to come, but the Czar 
of Russia had agreed to be her guest. Suddenly the doors of the room were 
flung open and in walked His Imperial Majesty, dressed in his royal 
robes, wearing the Imperial Crown and carrying a scepter. The guests, 
including Senator Chauncey Depew, Pierpont Morgan, and Lord Charles 
Beresford, sank in a court curtsy, only to recover themselves with shrieks 
of laughter when they realized they were paying homage to Harry Lehr. 
The next day Grand Duke Boris accosted Lehr on the beach and con- 
ferred upon him the title of ' King ' ; the title clung to him for the rest of 
his life. 

At 4.2 m. is a dangerous double curve (drive slowly). 

At 4.5 m. L. a short distance to PRICE'S NECK. This United States Coast 
Guard Station (open to visitors 8^.30) is the headquarters for the Watch 
Hill, Quonochontaug, Block Island, Green Hill, Point Judith, and Narra- 
gansett Pier Coast Guard Stations. It has a personnel of fourteen men 
and one commander, who are quartered in a modern, well-equipped 
building, with several single and double rooms, a large kitchen, showers, 
lavatories, individual lockers, and a store room. The interior is finished 
in eggshell white, the floors are covered with linoleum and cork tile. Men 
are stationed in the watch-tower here 24 hours a day. The- boathouse 
holds modern motor lifeboats, which are launched from a runway. The 
shore is patrolled at regular intervals for a distance of about four miles 
along the coast. 

United States Naval Radio Station, Price's Neck, was put in commission 
in May, 1920, to aid commercial navigation as well as the Navy. The 
station gives bearings in response to calls, and is of great service to sea- 
farers within a radius of 100 miles. 

61. Brenton's Point, 5.5 m. (L), is the extreme southern point of the 
Island of Rhode Island. To the west Beavertail, southernmost point of 
Conanicut Island, Narragansett Pier, and Point Judith, are visible. Off 
shore is the Brenton's Reef Lightship, warning of the dangerous shoals 
and hidden reefs. 

The road here is lined with fragrant hedge roses in summer. 

236 Main Street and Village Green 

At 6.4 m. L.from Ocean Ave. on Ridge Rd.; at 7.1 m. L.from Ridge Rd. on 
Harrison Ave.; at 7.5 m. L. is the entrance to Fort Adams. 

62. Fort Adams (open 8-4.30) has massive masonry walls, with case- 
ment ports for 500 guns of the type used for coast defense in the middle 
i gth century. 

In May, 1776, a large body of men from Newport repaired to Bren ton's 
Point and there began the construction of a fort to command the entrance 
to the harbor. When the British approached in December of that year, 
the position was abandoned because of the overwhelming odds in favor 
of the enemy. Newport was occupied by the British from December, 1776, 
to October, 1779. When the British left they burned the barracks on 
Brenton's Point, and the site was not used for military purposes for 
several years. After 1793, however, in anticipation of war with France, 
Congress took measures looking toward the construction of permanent 
works to defend the entrance to Narragansett Bay. The building of a new 
fort was entrusted to Major Louis Tousard. Fort Adams, named for 
President John Adams, was dedicated July 4, 1799; it then consisted of 
an enclosed indented work of masonry for guns, with a brick magazine, 
and barracks for one company. Some additional guns were mounted 
during the War of 1812, but otherwise, the fort was neglected for the first 
quarter-century of its existence. In 1824, however, after a board of engi- 
neers had condemned the old fort as useless, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph 
G. Totten undertook its reconstruction; provision was made for nearly 
500 pieces of various calibers, which afforded ample defense against the 
war vessels of that time. A permanent garrison was established at the 
fort in 1842, and has been maintained there ever since. 

The present fort covers a little over 138 acres. The modern fortification 
was begun in 1896. About 400 men are quartered in the fort itself and in 
several outlying barracks; the commandant's residence and headquarters 
is a large, homelike building standing on top of the highest point of land 
in the fort. 

At 7.6 m. R. from Harrison Ave. on Hammersmith Rd. 

63. A short distance from Harrison Ave. is visible (R) on a rocky hill, the 
Arthur Curtiss James House, an imposing three-story structure of gray 
stone in English medieval style (1912) with a Blue Garden (open last 
week in June; adm. 

L.from Hammersmith Rd. on Beacon Hill Rd. to a private driveway; L. here 
into the James estate. 

64. Surprise Valley (open 8-6.30) is an extraordinary collection of stone 
buildings with tile roofs that is supposed to represent an Alpine village; 
it was built by Mr. James in 1914-16. The road winds down into a hollow 
where most of the buildings are, passing cottages, a carpenter shop, 
hen yards, stock pastures, and an animal hospital (visitors must not stop 
their cars or alight on the estate}. The buildings are marked with wooden 
signs painted in bright blues, greens, and reds, with playful admonitions 
and scenes. 

Newport 237 

The exit from Surprise Valley is on Harrison Ave. at 7.8 m., main route 

L.from Harrison Ave. at 8.4 m. on Halidon Ave.; R.from Halidon Ave. on 
Wellington Ave. 

65. Ida Lewis Lighthouse, 8.7 m. (L), off Wellington Ave., connected with 
the mainland by a short pier, is no longer maintained as an aid to navi- 
gation. It was for 57 years the home of Ida Lewis, who succeeded her 
father as keeper of the lighthouse, serving for 32 years. A number of 
articles connected with her life are preserved in the museum of the New- 
port Historical Society. At present the lighthouse is used by the Ida 
Lewis Yacht Club. 

66. King Park (L), Wellington Ave., a small attractive tract of ground, 
was acquired by the city on March 3, 1897. It has paths, seats, a fine 
sandy beach (public), and numerous facilities for children's recreation, 
such as swings, sliding boards, and other equipment. A plain truncated 
pyramid at the west end of the park is a Memorial marking the landing 
site of the French troops under the command of Count de Rochambeau on 
July 12, 1780. 

At 9.2 m. L.from Wellington Ave. on Thames St. to Washington Sq. 11 m. 


67. The Government Landing, running from 215 Thames St. to the water- 
front, is a concrete wharf extending from the Torpedo Station landing 
to the Jamestown Ferry slip. The landing is well kept, and is usually 
the center of much activity, because of the constant ferrying of workers 
between the mainland and the Navy-owned islands. At the east approach 
to the landing is the U.S. Torpedo Station Memorial, a granite monument 
to those who have lost their lives in the service. 

United States Naval Torpedo Station, on Goat Island (not open), is viewed 
from the Government Landing. Goat Island has had a long history; 
it was probably the home, and certainly the final resting place of 26 
pirates who were hanged at Gravelly Point in 1723. The British used 
Fort George on the island to bombard Count D'Estaing's fleet in 1778. 
For about 70 years after the Revolution the island was used for military 
purposes by the Federal Government; it was taken over by the Navy 
Department in 1869 and became a torpedo station. Experiments with 
torpedoes were conducted in 1870; the first large factory for the manu- 
facture of torpedoes was erected in 1907; new buildings were added after 
1910. During the World War the station was used for chemical and 
electrical experiments. Since the war a large concrete storehouse and a 
new machine shop have been added. 

68. The State Armory (open), 371 Thames St., erected in 1894, is a two- 
story granite structure with two large circular towers that rise above 

238 Main Street and Village Green 

the front. The building is used by the National Guard and the Naval 
Reserve as a training quarters, and also for some civic events and enter- 

69. The Malbone Town Home (not open), 382 Thames St., a two-and-a- 
half-story brick structure built about 1744 by Godfrey Malbone, was 
used as a treasure depot for prizes of war by the British during their 
occupation of Newport in 1776-79. It is now the St. Claire Home for 
Aged Ladies. Malbone, who settled in Newport about 1700, was one of 
the most successful eighteenth-century merchants. He was very generous 
in his public acts, and once remarked in connection with something that 
he had done, 'What will not money buy?' Somebody overhearing the 
remark, posted the couplet: 

'All the money in the place, 
Won't buy old Malbone a handsome face.' 

Malbone was exasperated, and offered 10 guineas to learn the identity 
of the author. The writer of the lines, thinking he could earn 10 guineas 
in no easier way, acknowledged his production. Malbone proved that 
'commerce expands the mind and liberalizes the heart,' when he not only 
paid the reward but treated the crowd who had gathered to see what 
would happen. He used to give a great dinner party to his ship captains 
each time they returned from successful slave trips in Africa, and so care- 
less was he of his possessions that at the close of each of the dinners, the 
hilarious guests were allowed to smash every dish and plate on the table. 
Needless to say Mrs. Malbone saw to it that none of her precious china 
was in evidence on these occasions. 

70. Aguidneck Park, 268-334 Spring St., is a large well-equipped play- 
ground. The southeast section is set aside for small children, and has 
swings, sliding boards, sandboxes, etc. The northeast section is laid out 
with four public tennis courts. On the north side of the park is a recrea- 
tion hut, in which classes in gymnastics are held and entertainments take 
place from time to time. 

71. The People's Library (open 1-6, children's room 3-6), on the east side 
of Aquidneck Park, is a two-and-a-half-story, red-brick structure, with 
about 25,000 volumes. It was the home of George Gordon King, who in 
1912 offered it to the trustees of the People's Library, which was founded 
in 1870 by Christopher Townsend. 

72. Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church, 250 Spring St., is a brownstone 
edifice of the Gothic Revival period, construction of which was begun in 
1849. It was constructed with the assistance of Lieutenant, later General, 
Rosecrans of Civil War fame. Troublemakers insinuated that he used 
Federal property in the construction, but he cleared himself of the charges. 
The nave has a clerestory; at the angles on the tower are four carved 
figures of the evangelists, and surmounting the tower is a large bronze 
cross. The main altar of Carrara marble, with two smaller side altars, 
was made in Florence, Italy, by Angelo Lualdi. Behind the altars is an 
elaborately carved oak reredos. 

Newport 239 

Many Catholics were in Newport during the French occupation (1780- 
81), and in 1793 the city became a refuge for ^Catholics fleeing from the 
revolutionary struggles in the French West Indies. The building of Fort 
Adams and work in the coal mines at Portsmouth, attracted many Irish 
Catholic laborers after 1795. A schoolhouse bought in 1828 by the 
Reverend Robert Woodley for use as a church and Sunday school was 
the first Catholic-owned property in the State. 

73. Miantonomi Park, off Hillside Ave. on the extreme northern edge of 
the city, is the largest of the city's parks, comprising 30 acres of land, 
including Miantonomi Hill with broad fields on either side. Miantonomi 
Hill, the supposed seat of the famous Indian chieftain, Wanumetonomu, 
sachem of Aquidneck Island, contains the remains of the left end of the 
fortifications thrown up by the British during their occupation of New- 

Newport's War Memorial (open 8-4.30), an 8o-foot tower built of field 
stone, stands on top of the hill; from the top is a beautiful and extensive 
view in all directions. 

74. Clifton Cemetery, 42 Golden Hill St., was appropriated as a burial 
ground in 1671 by Thomas Clifton, a member of the society of Friends. 
Mary, daughter of Roger Williams, is believed to be buried here. 

75. Cliff Walk, reached from Bath Rd., off Belle vue Ave., is a footpath 
of unusual beauty, extending south from Bath Road for about 3 miles. 
The walk runs over a broken wall of rock that overhangs or retreats from 
its base, but always rises high above the water. Masses of fallen rock lie 
below along the shore with the sea seething and foaming over them. 
The Cliff Walk follows the ocean-shore at the foot of velvety green lawns 
belonging to the sumptuous estates, and offers beautiful views at every 
point. A sheet of water, known as Easton's Pond, mirroring the sur- 
roundings in its glassy depths, is a distinguishing feature of the landscape. 

The walk was at first a fisherman's trail, but the wealthy estate owners 
begrudged the use of it by natives and erected barriers and iron gateways 
to bar them. This action outraged the Newporters, who went to court 
about it; the court decided that the fishermen's shore rights entitled them 
to an unobstructed way around the island. The 'cottagers' made the 
best of it by opening the gates, removing the barriers they had erected, 
and laying out this beautiful path. 

76. The Forty Steps, on the Cliff Walk, was once a natural stairway of 
stone, leading to the ocean's edge. The stone steps wore away and a 
stairway of wood was built. At the head of the steps is a square cement 
landing, where the townspeople and servants of the estate dance in the 
summer evenings to the strains of fiddles and guitars. 

77. The Newport Casino (open to public; adm. price varies), 194 Bellevue 
Ave., is a commodious place of summer meeting and amusement for 
fashionable society. It was built for James Gordon Bennett, who in 1880 
sold it to the Newport Casino Association. Seen from the Avenue, it is a 

240 Main Street and Village Green 

simple, unpretentious-looking building of brick and English half -timber 
construction, with the ground floor occupied by smart stores. The building 
is admirably designed for its uses. The inner court, with its low balconies, 
latticed windows, and ivy-covered brick and shingled walls, is now quite 
attractive. There are two quadrangles; the smaller one is planted with 
flower beds, the larger holds tennis courts where championship matches 
are held in August. The large ballroom, decorated with restraint, has a 
stage at one end, and is sometimes used as a theater. 

78. The Stone Villa, on Bellevue Ave. opposite the Casino, built for 
James Gordon Bennett before 1880, is a large, granite building standing 
back from the street, with bronze owls on each of its four granite entrance 
gateposts. Bennett was a lover of birds, particularly owls. He had owls 
engraved on his cuff links, live owls in the garden, and painted owls on 
the panels of his home in Versailles, France. Even the bathroom of his 
yacht, the 'Lysistrata,' was decorated with scenes from the romance of 
two owls. 

79. De La Salle Academy, 356 Bellevue Ave., a semi-private high school 
for boys, under the supervision of the Brothers of the Christian School, 
was established in 1925. The stone and brick buildings have an audi- 
torium, a gymnasium, and classrooms. This was formerly the Weld 
Estate, noted for its beautiful lawn, rare plants, and fine shrubbery. 

80. The Elms, or the Edward T. Berwind Estate, corner of Bellevue 
Ave. and Dixon St. opposite La Salle Academy, embraces the whole 
square from the avenue to Spring St. The house, a magnificent square 
stone mansion, is well arranged for entertainments. The grounds are 
landscaped with shrubbery, flower beds and gardens, but the public can 
only peep at them through the iron fence that surrounds the estate. The 
place was once owned by Mrs. Bruen, and the handsome elms, that give 
the place its name, were planted by her. 

81. Newport Beach (bathing suits and bathhouses for hire), Bath Rd., a 
smooth, sandy beach about a mile long, affords an opportunity for safe 
surf bathing, while the modern Roman pools are available for those who 
prefer something less strenuous than the Atlantic. On the north side, the 
boardwalk is lined with concessions and amusements. 

82. Dr. Hopkins' Meeting-House (Congregational), 83 Mill St., a large 
frame structure built about 1727, is now a Knights of Columbus hall. 
The parish was established in 1720, with the Reverend Nathaniel Clap 
as pastor. In 1725 a schism arose that Dr. Clap ignored until an influ- 
ential committee waited upon him and requested that he comply with 
the wishes of the congregation. After listening to their plea the minister 
produced a plate of figs, handed each committee member one, then 
stalked from the room shouting, 'A fig for you all.' If, during his daily 
walk, he met any children flying kites, playing marbles, or whirling peg 
tops, he would buy the toys from them and exhort them not to gamble or 
indulge in vain sport. 

Pawtucket 241 

In 1755, the Reverend Samuel Hopkins was installed here as pastor. He 
delivered the first of a number of addresses on the evils of slavery about 

83. Corne House (not open), cor. Hill and Corne Sts., a two-and-a-half- 
story frame structure with a gable roof, was built about 1822, and takes 
its name from Michael Felix Corne, an Italian engraver who arrived here 
in that year. It is a local tradition that Corne, in 1833, proved that 
tomatoes, then called 'love apples,' were edible; they were thought to be 
poisonous. They were brought here from South Carolina in 1819, looked 
upon as curiosities, and prized for their beauty. 


City: Alt. 25, pop. 77,149, sett. 1671, incorp. as town 1862, incorp. as city 1885. 

Railroad Station: N.Y., N.H. & H., Broad St. at city line between Pawtucket 
and Central Falls. 

Bus Stations: Quaker Stage, Greyhound, Great Eastern, Grey, and New Eng- 
land Transportation lines, all from Goff Ave. near Broad St. 
Airport: American Airlines, Inc., Rhode Island State Airport, Hillsgrove, 
6.5 m. south of Providence on US 1 (see Tour 1). Tickets and information at 
N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R. Station, Pawtucket. 

Accommodations: Two principal hotels. Numerous restaurants. 

Amusements and Recreation: Seven concerts annually in Senior High School 
Auditorium, Exchange St., sponsored by Pawtucket Civic Music Association. 

Swimming: Senior High School. Various beaches on both sides of Narragansett 
Bay within easy driving distance. 

Annual Events: Novelty Park Marathon, May 30, participants from all over 
New England. Annual All-Star baseball game around Labor Day, players 
chosen from Intercity Baseball League. Narragansett Park Racing Associa- 
tion meets: spring, summer, and fall. 

PAWTUCKET is situated on a number of small hills that slope gently 
toward three rivers the Ten Mile, the Moshassuck, and the Blackstone. 
The first two form approximately the eastern and western boundaries of 
the city. The Blackstone enters from the north, runs through the center 
of the city, and tumbles over Pawtucket Falls, where it becomes the 
Seekonk River. This is the most northerly point of Narragansett Bay 
tidewater. For many years the channel of the Seekonk was unsuitable for 
shipping, but improvements undertaken after 1850 made commerce 
profitable (see Transportation). The falls, once an important factor in 

242 Main Street and Village Green 

the city's development, are at the narrowest point of the river in the 
center of the city, but are now obscured by the Main St. bridge. 

Like its neighbor, Providence, Pawtucket has a highly concentrated 
nucleus of activity. This region extends a few blocks on Main St. west of 
the intersection with East St., where the principal stores and banks are 
closely aligned along the rising curve of a hill. The compactness of the 
region is emphasized by the narrowness of the street, the lack of open 
space because of its curve, and the random way in which the side streets 
branch off. It is an unusually active district, for here the great laboring 
population of Pawtucket and outlying districts comes to do its shopping. 
Busses from all parts of the city and outlying districts converge on this 
street as a terminus, and it is the center not only for the laboring popula- 
tion but also for the farmers of Rhode Island and adjacent Massachusetts. 
The city has a varied character. On Park Place and along Summit St. 
there are a few magnificent old homes. At the southern boundary of the 
city, which touches Providence on two main thoroughfares and East 
Providence on two others, the neighboring districts are indistinguishable 
the transition from Providence's North Main St. to Pawtucket's Main 
St. shows no break in the random arrangement of houses, small stores, 
and other business establishments; the residential sections at the Hope 
St.-East St. transition merge into one another, and the city line in East 
Providence traverses several open fields. To the northwest Pawtucket 
partly surrounds the city of Central Falls, and here again the city lines, 
closely built up with mills, factories, and homes, are indistinguishable. 
An unusually large area of the city is occupied by residences, most of 
which are of a modest character. Double- and triple-decked tenements 
are numerous in some districts, but the city is free from grimy, sunless 
slums and barren regions where sand or acid soil smothers the grass and 
stunts the trees. For a city so completely industrial, there is a minimum 
of squalor. 

The first recorded mention of Pawtucket is contained in a deed dated 
1638, the formal grant of land that Roger Williams had secured by oral 
agreement in 1636 from the Narragansett Indians for the founding of 
Providence (see History}. The rocks and timber in this wilderness were 
so profuse that Williams and his companions, who sought tillable land, 
were content to name the ' woods and fields of Pawtucket ' as the northern 
boundary of the plot they desired. In Indian dialect, Pawtucket means 
'the place by the waterfall.' The area around the falls was a favorite 
fishing and camping ground for the natives. 

Joseph Jencks, Jr., a blacksmith, was Pawtucket's first white settler; in 
1671 he set up a forge where he could utilize the abundant water power 
of the falls. The heavy stand of timber that had repelled Williams and 
his associates served Jencks as a source of fuel. He manufactured plows, 
scythes, household utensils, and other commodities for the farmers of 
Providence. Other smiths soon moved in. The community was virtually 
destroyed by the Indians in March, 1676, during King Philip's War, but 
this was only a temporary interruption. After the smoke of their burning 

Pawtucket 243 

dwellings died away, the inhabitants returned from their refuge in the 
woods, rebuilt their homes and forges, and resumed the leisurely tenor of 
their lives. For more than a hundred years thereafter, until the beginning 
of the textile industry, Pawtucket continued as a small community 
engaged exclusively in supplying the neighboring town of Providence 
first with farm utensils and later with the metal parts keel plates, 
anchors, bells, etc. for the sailing ships that moved in and out of 
Providence harbor in the eighteenth century. During this period nearly 
all the records of the General Assembly pertaining to Pawtucket are 
concerned with disputes that arose over the building of dams in the area 
of the falls. Settlers farther up the Blackstone River discovered that these 
obstructions interfered with their fishing privileges. In 1761 the General 
Assembly authorized a lottery for the purpose of 'building a passage 
around Pawtucket Falls so that fish of almost every kind, who choose 
fresh water at certain seasons of the year, may pass with ease.' This legis- 
lation apparently failed to gain its end as a little later the legislature 
passed another act making it lawful for anyone to blow up the rocks 
to 'let fish pass up.' There is no record that this expedient was ever 
resorted to. 

During the Revolution, Pawtucket supplied the Colonial army with both 
money and men, but her chief contribution was the manufacture of am- 
munition and firearms. The iron industry, more than a hundred years 
old, was quickly adapted to the purpose, and the manufacture of ammu- 
nition continued, for it is on record that in 1810 Stephen Jencks made 
10,000 muskets for the Government. 

Being on the Boston Post Road, Pawtucket became a favorite stopping- 
place for travelers in Colonial days. Several notable taverns were erected. 
In 1776, Colonel Eliphalet Slack built one on the east side of the river 
opposite the present Trinity Church. On the west side, Constant Martin 
had an inn during Revolutionary times on a site now bordered by Main 
and Broad Streets, and a later one at the corner of Commerce and Main 
Sts. Farther out on the west side near the Providence line was built the 
celebrated Pidge Tavern, still standing, where Lafayette lodged on two 
occasions. All of these Pawtucket taverns were favorite meeting-places 
for the gay French officers billeted in Providence during the Revolution. 

In 1800 there were about thirty-five houses on the west side of the river, 
and half that number on the east. That these were widely scattered is 
attested by the story that Mollie Bowers, who lived near the river, was 
accustomed to carry a bag of asafoetida as protection against wolves 
when she went on horseback after dark to visit friends on a country road 
now represented by North and South Bond Sts. 

Several ephemeral newspapers appeared in the early part of the nine- 
teenth century, but it was not until 1825 that a journal of promise ap- 
peared. It was a weekly, called at first the Pawtucket Chronicle and Manu- 
facturers' and Artisans' Gazette and later the Pawtucket Gazette and Chron- 
icle. This paper continued until 1885, the date of Pawtucket's incorpora- 
tion as a city. In that year two dailies appeared, one of them the successor 

244 Main Street and Village Green 

of the former weekly. The latter was short-lived, but the new paper 
flourished and became the Pawtucket Times which at the present time has 
a circulation of 30,000. 

From the time of its settlement until its incorporation as a city in 1885, 
Pawtucket has had an unusual number of changes in legal status. Be- 
cause the Blackstone River was the boundary line between Rhode Island 
and Massachusetts until 1862, the community grew up as two different 
units. That on the west side of the river became a part of North Provi- 
dence when the latter town was set aside from Providence in 1765. That 
on the east side belonged to Rehoboth, Massachusetts, until 1812, when 
the area was included in the new town of Seekonk. In 1828 the town of 
Pawtucket, Massachusetts, was established in the Seekonk area. Ironi- 
cally, the one man shot in the Dorr Rebellion (1842) was a citizen of 
Massachusetts; in a fracas on Pawtucket's Main St. bridge, a Kentish 
Guardsman's bullet crossed the State line (see History). The boundary 
dispute between Rhode Island and its neighboring State, having lasted 
for two centuries, was finally settled in 1899. Part of the settlement in- 
cluded cession of the Pawtucket area to Rhode Island, and in 1874 the 
Pawtucket section of North Providence was set aside and the two com- 
munities at last became a unit. Eleven years later Pawtucket, with a 
population of 22,906, became incorporated as a city and elected Frederick 
Clark Sayles as its first mayor. 

Pawtucket's most important development has been industrial. This was 
indicated even before the Revolution, but in 1789 a series of occurrences 
made Pawtucket famous as ' the cradle of the American textile industry ' 
and determined the lasting character of the city. In this year Moses 
Brown took steps to finance machine manufacture of thread and chose 
Pawtucket as the site for the first mill. Brown, like many capitalists in 
Rhode Island and other coastal States, had made his fortune in shipping, 
but conditions after the Revolution were hazardous. English restrictions 
on the free transit of certain goods overseas, domestic monetary evils, and 
other difficulties, forced the men of wealth to look elsewhere for invest- 
ment of their money. The power spinning-frame had been invented in 
England by Arkwright some years before, with profitable results, and the 
power manufacture of thread had already been attempted in New York. 
England, anxious to keep the Arkwright process within her own shores, 
passed laws rendering divulgence of its secrets almost on a par with trea- 
son. However, young Samuel Slater, a master mechanic of Nottingham, 
shipped off to America as a farmer with a full knowledge of the spinning- 
frame stowed away in his head. After some discouraging attempts with 
the struggling industry in New York, he heard of Moses Brown, got in 
touch with him, and was soon off to Pawtucket. His work, begun with a 
reconstruction of the mill's crude equipment, was successful (see Industry 
and Commerce, and Labor). The first mill, constructed in the late i78o's, 
stood at the west abutment of a bridge spanning the Seekonk. It was 
swept away by a freshet in 1807, but a second mill had been constructed 
in 1 793 and is now maintained as a memorial to Slater and his works. 

Pawtucket 245 

The early years were full of problems. Thread imported from England 
was favored in the American market. Domestic competition arose. 
Within twenty months after the mill was started, several thousand pounds 
of yarn had accumulated in the warehouse, and Moses Brown wrote to 
Slater, his partner-manager, saying, 'Thee must shut down thy gates, 
or thee will spin up all my farms into cotton yarn.' In 1809, President 
Madison, at his inauguration, gave prestige to American cloth by wearing 
a suit of woolen material made at Pawtucket; his act was a boon to the 
Pawtucket industry. 

Some time after 1800, Slater withdrew from the original firm and went 
into partnership with his father-in-law, a machinist named Oziel Wilkin- 
son, and two brothers-in-law. This was the firm of Samuel Slater and 
Company. About 1829, Slater left Pawtucket for Webster, Massachu- 
setts, where he had acquired large mill interests. 

The early mills were occupied primarily with spinning thread, which was 
then let out to private individuals to be put through the processes of 
bleaching, weaving, and the like. In the former capacity, one Mother 
Cole achieved distinction. She supervised a large corps of women whose 
duty it was to suspend skeins of yarn on stakes driven into a great meadow 
between the present Roosevelt Avenue and the Blackstone River. The 
skeins were sprinkled with water and then rubbed in the sun with drying 
sticks. A spell of rainy weather would delay this process and cause con- 
sternation in the trade. 

Power was first applied to weaving about 1815. Like spinning, hand 
weaving had remained practically unchanged for centuries. The first 
power loom merely supplanted with machinery the hand motions of 
passing the shuttle and securing the weft. There are conflicting records 
of its introduction. The so-called Scotch power loom is supposed to have 
been introduced at Pawtucket by David Gilmour with the assistance of 
David Wilkinson. At the same time John Thorpe, a highly skilled 
machinist who spent much of his life in Pawtucket, is credited with 
patents of a hand and water loom (1812) and a power loom (1816), the 
latter being granted jointly to Thorpe and Silas Shepard of Taunton, 

Whatever conflict there might have been in their connections with the 
power loom, David Wilkinson and John Thorpe both possessed a kind of 
genius and their activities were economically important. Wilkinson, in 
the late years of the eighteenth century, had helped Elijah Ormsbee equip 
a twelve-ton boat with an engine, and the craft had steamed along the 
Seekonk to Providence and back. Regarding the affair as a lark, the 
young mechanics allowed the boat to rot along the shore. Some time 
later Daniel French, from whom Robert Fulton is said to have secured 
many ideas for the manufacture of his first steamboat, came to Pawtucket 
and pumped Wilkinson for the principles on which the earlier boat had 
functioned (see Transportation). Wilkinson was either indifferent to or 
greatly underestimated the value of his achievements. As a young man 
he had also invented the slide lathe, but allowed the patent to lapse. In 

246 Main Street and Village Green 

the i84o's Congress voted him $10,000 'for the benefits accruing to the 
public service from the use of the principle of the gauge and sliding lathe, 
of which he was the inventor, now in use in the workshops of the Govern- 
ment at the different national arsenals and armories.' Thorpe, however, 
renewed his patent on the hand and water loom in 1843 and meanwhile, 
between 1812 and 1829, had taken out at least six patents, of which three 
were vitally important in the development of the textile industry. The 
latter were taken out in 1828 and included basic principles for 'ring- 
spinning/ a method now used on over 100,000,000 of the 160,000,000 
cotton spindles' now operating throughout the world. 

By 1840, when New England shipping was rapidly declining and Provi- 
dence merchants were turning all their attention to industry, Pawtucket 
was established as a manufactory of textile and metal goods for the 
entire country, and was no longer dependent for patronage upon her sister 
community, Providence. 

The history of Pawtucket in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 
was not greatly different from that of many similar industrial com- 
munities. Social conditions resulting from the nature of mill employment 
became a problem. As the available labor from surrounding farms was 
used up, drifting workmen moved in. The practices of these unattached 
laborers earned for the town derisive names such as Pilfershire, Bung- 
town, Bang-all, and Hard-scrabble. Child labor was freely used in the 
mills for many years. In 1826 the superintendent of the Pawtucket 
Thread Company was a lad of nineteen with eleven years' experience in 
the mills. Children were hired for about a dollar a week and were re- 
quired to work from 12 to 14 hours a day. Lighting and ventilation were 
poor; education fared badly. In 1793, at the suggestion of Samuel Slater, 
a school was started with sessions on Sundays, but it had little success, 
and even by 1840, when an elementary education law was passed, little 
had been accomplished toward improvement of the child labor situation 
(see Education, and Labor). 

In the first half of the nineteenth century there was a large Irish, English, 
and Scottish immigration into Pawtucket, drawn there by the textile 
industry. From 1860 on, the most extensive immigration was that of the 
French-Canadians. The present population of the city is 77,149 of which 
70 per cent is either foreign-born, or born of foreign stock. Of this per- 
centage, about half are Irish, English and Scottish peoples. The Irish 
are scattered throughout the city, whereas the English and Scots have 
concentrated largely in Fairlawn. The next largest group is the French- 
Canadian, making up about 20 per cent of the foreign population. Mem- 
bers of this group are found mostly in Darlington, Pleasant View, and 
Woodlawn. By speech, origin, and religion (Roman Catholic), the latter 
group is the most closely integrated of the foreign-born. The remaining 
15 per cent of the city's foreign stock is made up largely of Germans, 
Italians, Slavs, and Portuguese. 

Pawtucket remains primarily an industrial city and has been susceptible 
to the fortunes and misfortunes of the textile industry as a whole. Having 

Pawtucket 247 

enjoyed steady expansion and development, the city has also had its in- 
dustrial strife. The nine-months' national textile strike of 1922 had its 
genesis here (see Labor), and the Moshassuck Cemetery in Central Falls 
was the scene of some unfortunate skirmishing between workers and the 
National Guard during the protest strike of 1934. General factories now 
exceed the textile mills in quantity if not in numbers of employees 
there are more than sixty that send machines, machine parts, and other 
metal goods to all countries of the world. There are, however, more than 
fifty textile mills. So much thread is manufactured in these plants that it 
has been said that if every stitch of it were suddenly to loosen, the entire 
country would be obliged to run for cover. 

TOUR 1 1.5 m 

N. from Main St. on Roosevelt Ave. 

1. The Old Slater Mill (open Tues., Thur., and Fri. eve., 7-9.30; free), 
SE. cor. Roosevelt and Slater Aves., on the Blackstone River. In 1793, 
the firm of Almy, Brown and Slater, first successful manufacturers of 
cotton thread in America, built this two-and-a-half-story frame building 
to house machinery formerly used in a mill farther down the river. The 
cupola on top of the building contains the bell once rung to summon the 
workers in days when the mill was active. A trench for developing water- 
power runs underneath the building. Within the mill are several pieces 
of Arkwright machinery that Samuel Slater built when he came to Paw- 
tucket from England in 1789. These and other Colonial relics are pre- 
served by the Pawtucket Chamber of Commerce as a memorial to the 
founder of the cotton textile industry in America. 

2. The Pawtucket City Hall (open weekdays 9-5, Sat. 9-12), NE. cor. 
Roosevelt and Leather Aves. The main body of the structure, dedicated 
in 1936, is four stories high, built of yellow brick and stone in modern 
design. The whole is surmounted by a high tower, an imposing mass of 
vertical lines, topped by a stepped pyramid of stainless steel. Across the 
front of the building is a series of plaques symbolizing various events in 
the history of the city. The interior decorations combine simple, graceful 
lines with harmonious color effects. On the ground floor is an auditorium 
extending the width of the building. The lobby is of marble, with a 
bronze copy of the city seal set in the mosaic floor. The architect was 
John F. O'Malley. 

R.from Roosevelt Ave. on Exchange St. across bridge. 

3. The Pawtucket Senior High School, N. side of Exchange St. on the 
Blackstone River, is a large four-story building of red brick with lime- 
stone trim, handsomely designed along Colonial lines. There are two 
large end pavilions with Corinthian pilasters, pediments, and ornamental 
balustrades. The central section with its graceful tower is approached 

248 Main Street and Village Green 

by a flight of steps which lead up to a Corinthian portico. The architects 
of the building were Monahan and Meikle of Pawtucket. Erected in 
1926 at a cost of $1,500,000 to accommodate 1500 pupils, the school at 
present, by use of the double session, has an enrollment of 2250 

R. from Exchange St. on Broadway. 

4. The Pawtucket Congregational Church (open weekdays 9-5, Sat. 9-12: 
parish house entrance), junction of Broadway and Walcott St. Whereas 
the early citizens on the west side of the river were Baptists and attended 
meetings in Providence, those on. the east were communicants of the 
Congregational society. For many years they attended the Newman 
Church in Rehoboth, three miles away (see Tour 5). On April 17, 1829, 
the Pawtucket Congregational Society was organized, with a membership 
of eight women and one man. A small church was erected on the site of 
the present building, but this was destroyed by fire in 1864. Four years 
later the present building of Romanesque motif, with gable roof and 
three-staged spire, was completed. Broadway, which bounds the church 
lot on the north side, was formerly the route of the Boston Post Road. 

Sharp L. from Broadway on Walcott St.; R. on Summit St. 

5. The Oliver Starkweather House, 57 Summit St., was regarded in the 
early i9th century as one of the two finest homes in the city, the other 
being that of Colonel Slack. Records of its construction are unavailable, 
but it was probably built near the turn of the century. It is a frame house 
of large proportions, five windows in width and two-and-a-half stories 
in height, with a low-hipped monitor roof surrounded by a balustrade. 
On the Summit St. facade are two triangular-pedimented dormers and a 
portico supported by two slender Roman Doric columns. A side door- 
way, with Ionic pilasters supporting a pediment pierced by a semicircular 
fan-light, is a well-executed copy of a type of doorway designed by Eng- 
lish architects and circulated in America during the late i8th and early 
1 9th centuries. The windqws on the lower floor are decorated in an un- 
usual manner, being surmounted by wooden angle rustications which in 
turn are surmounted by large cornices. The house formerly stood on the 
vacant corner lot on the north, and the st.eps to its entrance can still be 
seen. At some time in its history it was moved to gratify the whim of a 
woman who could not get along with her neighbors. 

Oliver Starkweather, son of Ephraim Starkweather who came to Paw- 
tucket in 1776, was an outstanding figure in the village. Dr. David 
Benedict, who wrote his 'Reminiscences of Pawtucket' in this house 
about 1850, related that Starkweather drove a chaise which had 'a pink 
stern, flat top, and was very ugly looking.' The same writer tells an 
anecdote connected with Starkweather's term in the Massachusetts 
legislature. When the town of Seekonk was established in 1812, Stark- 
weather became its first representative. The name Seekonk was regarded 
by many as offensively uneuphonious, and one who considered it such 
was the Speaker of the House. On several occasions when he had begun 
an address by saying, ' The member from ' he would check himself as if 

Pawtucket 249 

[shrinking from an unpronounceable name, and continue, 'Mr. Stark- 
weather,' etc. 
Retrace on Summit St. to Walcott St.; L. on Walcott St. to Main St.; L. 
on Main St. 

6. The Colonel Slack Mansion, 50 Main St. Opposite his first tavern, 
since destroyed, Colonel Eliphalet Slack built this three-story brick house 
in 1815. Except for the bracketed cornice on its low-hipped roof, the 
style of the house is that of an earlier period. Its proportions are sug- 
gestive of the reputation for magnificence that it once enjoyed, but the 
fan-light over the door and the Palladian windows in both the second and 
third tiers fall short of the standard upheld in other parts of the State: 
the semi-ellipse of the fan-light is flattened and the windows are out of 
proportion. The house has served for many years as the rectory of 
Trinity Episcopal Church. 

Colonel Slack was a capable and well-to-do business man. He was 
considered eccentric, largely because of his habit of attending auctions 
vendues as they were called and purchasing all sorts of odds and ends, 
old and new, which he stored in one of his buildings called 'the museum.' 
The collection has unfortunately been dispersed. The tavern that stood 
opposite this house was used by General Washington and his corps, and 
later by Lafayette. 

7. The Site of the Joseph Jencks Forge is at the southwest corner of Main 
St. bridge and is indicated by a marker. 


8. The First Baptist Church, SW. cor. High and Summer Sts., was erected 
in 1842 and enlarged in 1870. In the early history of Pawtucket, the 
Baptists attended meetings in Providence. In 1793, a group of them 
established the Catholic Baptist Society. A meeting-house was soon 
begun but not finished until 1800. In 1804, David Benedict, then a stu- 
dent at Brown University, began preaching to the congregation, and 
largely through his efforts the society expanded. The meeting-house was 
enlarged in 1813 and 1823, and was finally moved away in 1842 to make 
room for the present building. In 1841 the original name of the congrega- 
tion was changed to the First Baptist Society. The main body of the 
church is rectangular in form with a low-pitched gable roof. The project- 
ing entry has a triangular pediment supported by two large fluted col- 
umns, and is crowned by a domed belfry. A tall spire formerly atop the 
tower was removed shortly after the turn of the century. The decora- 
tions within are designed with charm and restraint. 

9. The Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library (open 9-8 except Sun. and 
hoi.; reading room open Sun. 2-6 except from July 1 to Labor Day), Sum- 
mer St., between High and Exchange Sts. A private charter was granted 

250 Main Street and Village Green 

to the Pawtucket Library Association in 1852 and transferred to the town 
in 1876 under the name of the Pawtucket Free Library. In 1898, Freder- 
ick Clark Sayles, first mayor of the city, donated this building in memory 
of his wife, Deborah Cook Sayles. It was designed by Cram, Goodhue 
and Ferguson and dedicated in 1902. The open shelf system, one of the 
first in the country, was installed at this time. There are two branch 
offices, and the catalogue lists about 50,000 volumes, with an average 
yearly circulation of about 300,000. The building has a square central 
portion with an Ionic portico approached by a broad flight of steps. 
The wings flanking each side of the square center are pierced by three 
windows framed by Roman Doric pilasters and surmounted by sculptured 
panels. Antefixes in a double row decorate the cornices of the wings. 

10. Pawtucket Boys 1 Club, 53 East Ave. This three-story brick building 
was erected in 1902 to serve the recreational needs of boys in the crowded 
area of the Blackstone Valley. The club was one of the first organizations 
of its kind in the country, and the building contains a large gymnasium, 
swimming pool, auditorium, and several smaller rooms for educational 
and recreational purposes. The membership is about 3800. The building 
stands on the site formerly occupied by the home of Joseph Jencks, Jr. 

11. Wilkinson Park, Park Place, contains a memorial dedicated in 1897 
to the soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. The monument, executed by 
W. Granville Hastings, is named ' Liberty Arming the Patriot ' and repre- 
sents the figure of Liberty leaning on a spear and handing a sword to the 
patriot about to leave his plow. 

12. Saint Paul's Episcopal Church (open weekdays 9-12; parish house 
entrance), 50 Park Place, stands on the site of a small church built in 
1816 at the instigation of Samuel Slater, David Wilkinson, and others. 
This was enlarged several times and finally replaced in 1902 by the present 
stone edifice, English Gothic in style with a square, angle-buttressed 
tower. A large bell in the tower, used in the former building throughout 
its entire history, was cast by Paul Revere; there is also a ten-bell carillon. 
In the church is a large marble tablet erected in memory of Samuel 
Slater, and an exquisite cut-glass chandelier, imported from England and 
presented by Slater's wife. 

13. The Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
(Saint Mary's Church), cor. Grace and Pine Sts., stands on the site of the 
second Roman Catholic church in Rhode Island, erected in 1829. It was 
a simple frame structure occupying 125 square feet of land donated by 
David Wilkinson; the Rev. Robert Woodley was the first priest. Fre- 
quent additions were made as the industrial life of Pawtucket attracted 
new residents. In 1885, the old church was torn down to make room for 
the present structure, consecrated in 1887. Victorian Gothic in style, the 
church has an octagonal spire on the southeast corner and two extended 
piers topped with spires and finials. A large rose window is set in the east 
end of the clerestory. The pentagonal apse is separated from the nave 
by a richly molded chancel arch. Beautiful stained-glass windows are set 
in the five sections of the apsidal wall. 

Pawtucket 251 

14. The Church of Saint John the Baptist, Slater St. between Capital St. 
and Quincy Ave., was consecrated December 17, 1927. Of limestone and 
brick, it is built in the style of the Florentine Renaissance. The decora- 
tions are particularly notable. Four ceiling panels by Jean Desauliers 
represent the Ascension of Christ. The windows are executed by Maume- 
jean Brothers of Paris, and the stations of the cross, by Vignali and 
Company, Florence, are in imitation of the Cross of Tiepolo (1696-170x3) 
in the Church of the Frari, Venice. The bronze doors were cast by 
Brandt, of Paris. 

15. The Old Pidge Tavern, 586 Pawtucket Ave., is traditionally supposed 
to have been built by the Sayles family about 1640. If true, this legend 
makes it the oldest house in the State. Frequent remodeling in the first 
hundred years of its existence has changed its appearance to that of a 
mid- 18th-century structure. Two-and-a-half stories high, it is rectangular 
in plan with a red-brick chimney, off-center, straddling the roof ridge. 
The chimney is dated 1767. It is supposed that the tavern had previously 
been square with a stone chimney, and that in 1767 it was lengthened to 
its present dimensions. 

Whatever the facts of its early history may have been, the Pidge House 
has a rich store of authenticated tradition. During the Revolution, when 
the French troops were encamped near-by, General Lafayette occupied 
two rooms on the second floor. On his return to America in 1824, he 
stopped here again on his way to Boston. The place was licensed as a 
tavern in 1783 and remained active in that capacity for many years. 

The building contains many Colonial relics. A large beam runs length- 
wise through the house, a feature of Colonial construction known as the 
summer tree. In the corner of the old common or bar room is a closet used 
for serving ales and liquors. It has a half-door, a narrow serving shelf, 
and a broader shelf within. In the latter is a slot through which coins 
were dropped, supposedly into a half-bushel basket. Behind the bar 
room is the kitchen with a well-preserved old oven. The house also con- 
tains some of the furniture of its halcyon days. In the yard is an old 
well and a large flat boulder used by Lafayette as a mounting block. 

1 6. Narragansett Park (adm. $1), Newport Ave., contains a new race 
track; the grandstand seating capacity is 20,000. Built in 1934 at the cost 
of $1,000,000, it is reputed to be one of the best, though not one of the 
swankiest, race tracks in the country. There are more than 1000 stalls 
in the stables. Meets are held in spring, summer, and fall, seven or eight 
races daily except Sunday. There is pari-mutuel betting. 

17. Slater Park, between Newport Ave. and the Ten Mile River, has its 
main entrance on Newport Ave. and another on Brook St. Comprising 
193 acres, it is the largest of Pawtucket's recreational areas. The plot 
has winding drives, a profusion of flower gardens, and amply wooded 
sections. Its lake is used for skating; rowboats are for hire in season. 
Other recreational features include an athletic field, children's amuse- 
ments, a small zoo, and open fireplaces. 

252 Main Street and Village Green 

The Daggett House (open Wed. from mid-July through September; adm. 
25^; other times by appointment), in the Park, is a two-and-a-half -story 
frame Colonial house built in 1685 to replace an earlier structure, erected 
by John Daggett in 1644, that was burned during King Philip's War in 
1676. The house has a gable roof and central chimney and doorway, with 
two windows on the right but only one on the left. The enclosed entry and 
the one-story addition are of a later date. On display in the house are 
many historic items, including a blanket woven by Samuel Slater. The 
Daggetts were slave-holders, and in one of the center beams may be seen 
rings from which Prince, one of the slaves, swung his hammock. In the 
attic is a secret closet where valuables were stored, and where the occu- 
pants could hide from the Indians. In each generation, only one member 
of the family is supposed to have known the existence of the closet. The 
house was remodeled in 1790; in 1902, restoration was begun, and was 
completed in 1905, under the auspices of the Pawtucket Chapter, Daugh- 
ters of the American Revolution. This organization holds the responsibil- 
ity of the house's upkeep. 

Friendship Garden, in Slater Park, is an area set aside and developed by 
the Pawtucket Rotary Club. There is a grove of 67 trees symbolizing 
the countries in which Rotary Clubs have been established. Between 
two lagoons is a chain of small, artificial islands called the Shakespearean 
Garden, planted with many of the flowers and plants mentioned by Shake- 
speare in his works. 


City: Alt. 12, pop. 252,981, set. 1636, incorp. 1831. 
Railroad Station: N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R., Union Station, Exchange Place. 
Bus Stations: Greyhound, Great Eastern, New England Lines, and others, 
Fountain St. between Eddy and Mathewson Sts. 

Airport: American Airlines, R.I. State Airport, 6.5 miles south of Providence 
on Route US 1. City ticket office, Turks Head Bldg. Taxis from Baltimore 
Hotel and Turks Head Bldg., 50?f, time 30 min. 

Piers: Colonial Line (to New York), Point St. Bridge; Steamer to Newport and 
Block Island, 185 S. Water St.; Steamer to Newport and Block Island (sum- 
mer only), foot of Orange St.; Moonlight Sails, foot of Orange St., and 185 
S. Water St. 

Traffic Regulations: Turns may be made in either direction at intersections, 
except where officers or traffic lights direct otherwise; vehicle to right always has 
right of way. Watch street signs for parking limitations; commercial parking 
lots at usual rates on Pine St. and vicinity. Watch signs for numerous one-way 

Providence 253 

streets in downtown area and on College Hill. Watch for rotary traffic systems 
throughout city. Speed limits depending on congestion strictly enforced. 

Information Service: Chamber of Commerce, Old Market House, Market Square. 

Amusements and Recreation: Occasional legitimate plays at rented theaters; 5 
principal downtown movie houses. 

Concerts: Metropolitan Theater, 9 Chestnut St. Providence Symphony Or- 
chestra, 4 annual concerts; Boston Symphony Orchestra, 5 annual concerts; 
Providence Community Concert Association, 5 annual concerts. 
Athletics: Roger Williams Park, between Elm wood Ave. and Broad St., and at 
other municipal parks throughout the city. 

Amateur Sports: Boxing, regular schedule, Infantry Hall, 144 So. Main St.; 
Baseball, 'Sandlot' and 'Twilight' Leagues, municipal parks; Hockey, regular 
schedule, R.I. Auditorium, mi No. Main St. College and Scholastic Sports: 
Football, Baseball, Track, at fields connected with the institutions. 
Professional Sports: Boxing, regular schedule, Infantry Hall, 144 S. Main St.; 
Hockey, regular schedule, 'The Rhode Island Reds,' R.I. Auditorium, mi No. 
Main St. ; Wrestling, Heavy Weight Division, regular schedule, R.I. Auditorium, 
i in No. Main St.; Light Weight Division, Infantry Hall, 144 S. Main St. 
Swimming: Various beaches on both sides of Narragansett Bay within easy 
driving distance. 

Golf: Municipal course, Triggs Memorial Park, Chalkstone Ave., 18 holes, 
green fees 50p weekdays, 75ff Sat., Sun., and holidays. 

Bridle paths: Blackstone Park, west side of Seekonk River; Obadiah Brown 
Playground, Chalkstone Ave.; Canada Pond Reservation; Roger Williams 
Boating: Roger Williams Park. 

Annual Events: Inter scholastic Sports: Annual interscholastic track and field 

meet, Memorial Day, Brown University stadium. 

Golf: Course tournament in June, R.I. Public Links tournament in July, Triggs 

Memorial Park, Chalkstone Ave. 

Music: Providence Festival Chorus, one concert in December at Metropolitan 

Theater, 9 Chestnut St., one concert in June at Benedict Memorial, Roger 

Williams Park. 

Guides to Current Events: Brown University Bulletin, published weekly by the 
University during the school year. All University and major civic events. 
Calendar of Art Events, published monthly except July, August, and September 
by the Community Art Projects, 44 Benevolent St. Lists all significant art 
events in Providence and throughout New England. June issue includes all 
summer exhibits. Providence Public Library, Information Desk, corner Wash- 
ington and Greene Sts., keeps file of all coming and current events. What's 
Going on Today, daily in Providence Journal. What's Going on Tonight, daily 
in Providence Evening Bulletin. 

PROVIDENCE today is an agglomeration of contrasting and often 
antagonistic regions and influences. Compact to the point of overcrowd- 
ing in the business section and to the east a short distance over College 
Hill, the city sprawls without apparent logic or plan to the west, north, 
and south; yet no region is more than fifteen minutes' ride from the 
center, and ' to go into the city ' means to everyone whatever his 
neighborhood, occupation, or interests to go into the district radiating 


Caleb Arnold House A 4 
Bishop House E 2 
Bradley Hospital D 4 
Bullock's Tavern D 5 
Butler Hospital D 2 
Charles V. Chapin Hospital 

City Hall B5 

Clemence House A 1 

Cranston Print Works A 4 

Cushing Homestead B 1 

Daggett House E 1 

Dyerville Reservation A 2 

Grace Church B 3 

High School D 3 

Ide House D 4 

Indian Soapstone Quarry A 2 

King Homestead A 2 
Knight Memorial Library 

B 3 

La Salle Academy B 2 
Metacomet Golf Club D 4 
Narragansett Race Track 

E 1 

Neutaconkanut Hill Reser- 
vation A 3 

Neutaconkanut Park A 3 
Newman Church E 2 
North Burial Ground C 1 
Old Stone House D 4 
Captain Stephen Olney 

House B 1 

Pawtuxet River Reserva- 
tion C5 

Pidge Tavern D 1 
Providence College B 1 
Providence Country Day 

School E3 

Rhode Island Hospital C 3 
Rhode Island Yacht Club 

C 5 

Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet C5 
Roger Williams Park C 5 
Slater Park El 
Swan Point Cemetery D 1 
Town Hall D 3 
Walker House E 2 
Wannamoisett Country 

Club E 2 
Whitcomb Farm D 5 

254 Main Street and Village Green 

a few blocks from the intersection of Westminster and Dorrance Streets. 
This region is without definitely segregated districts devoted to special 
activities. There is no real financial district, although most of the banks, 
brokers' offices, and insurance companies lie east of Dorrance Street. The 
larger area to the west of Dorrance Street is known as the shopping 
district. The city is not large enough to support 'exclusive' blocks; the 
entire shopping area contains perhaps three or four high-priced establish- 
ments, but otherwise a great number of one-price and cut-rate stores. 
The department stores cater to all conditions of purse, striking a broad 
middle average in quality and price. 

An area so concentrated as this one is filled during the business day with 
a great variety of peoples. A random stroll up Westminster Street 
past the principal banks, a bookstore, an elaborate pharmacy and two 
chain drugstores, a haberdashery, a 'five and ten' block, past restaurants, 
shoe stores, dress shops, and the department store whose sidewalk clock 
is a popular rendezvous presents an indescribable mixture of faces, 
complexions, attires, and manners of speech. Two solid-looking men 
may be overheard conversing in a pure Lancashire dialect, and two young 
ladies behind them may be speaking in Canadian-French. One may 
overhear the accent of a Boston Brahmin, or of a New Yorker; but it is 
unlikely that a 'pure Providence' tongue will be encountered, because 
there 'ain't no such animal.' 

Gradations of wealth are common in all large cities; in this respect Provi- 
dence is a little unusual because it contains the widespread wealth of a 
diversified-industry city plus the concentrated wealth of a single-industry 
town. It is both mid-western and feudal. Its industries include the manu- 
facture of machine tools, wire, boilers, files, screws, mechanical pencils, 
ring travelers, precision instruments, toys, mattresses, underwear, and 
jewelry but there remains the textile dynasty, which still holds ascen- 
dancy. Tangible evidence of the dynasty lies in the magnificent palaces 
on the city's East Side; the intangible evidence lies in a spirit of conserva- 
tism which, to visitors from more venturesome parts of the Union, is a 
noticeable characteristic of the city and its people. 

Providence is built on three hills. The most important of these is Prospect 
or College Hill, rising steeply from the eastern border of the business 
district. Around the foot and along the sides of this hill the early settle- 
ment of Providence was made, and here today are the city's most mem- 
orable historic sites and houses. 

The old city began at the confluence of the Woonasquatucket and Moshas- 
suck Rivers, the former flowing from the west, the latter from the north. 
Their combined waters are called the Providence River, which flows di- 
rectly into the head of Narragansett Bay. That part of the river along 
the foot of College Hill is now so walled up and covered over as to be an 
undergound canal, with a sluggish and very odorous current. There is 
little about this south end of the Moshassuck to suggest to the uninitiated 
that here once flowed 'The Great Salt River,' a waterway of prime im- 
portance in the Commercial development of Providence. 

Providence 255 

The appearance of the city today is that of a community which has 
undergone three successive stages of development. The agricultural 
character of the early settlement gave way in the eighteenth century to 
shipping enterprises which filled the waterways with tall-masted India- 
men. By the middle of the nineteenth century the eminent position of 
shipping was usurped by the industrialism characteristic of modern Provi- 
dence. In like manner the simple homes of the first settlers were nearly 
all torn down to make room for the mansions of the shipping merchants. 
Many of the latter, in turn, were converted into offices for industrial 
enterprise or supplanted by modern buildings. Here and there, however, 
fascinating relics of the early settlement survive, especially along old 
Towne Street, now Main Street, which runs along the east bank of the 
river, from Rosemary Lane, now College Street, to the North Burial 
Ground. From the hill above, many stately Colonial dwellings look out 
over the rush and excitement of the modern city; and many of the down- 
town streets, following their ancient courses, express the leisure and in- 
timacy of earlier centuries, when the curve was not an impediment to 
traffic and great spaces were not necessary. The present-day visitor to 
Providence cannot fail to notice the short streets that can be taken in 
at a glance, and whose ends frame a glimpse of another street, or of an 
obliquely placed building on another lane. 

The early history of Providence is so closely allied to the early history of 
Rhode Island that this article should be read in conjunction with that on 
Colonial settlement (see History). The city was founded in 1636 by 
Roger Williams. The misadventures that he had experienced in search- 
ing for a place where he could practice his religious and civil convictions 
were nearly at an end when in June of that year he abandoned the abor- 
tive settlement in the present East Providence and started paddling a 
canoe down the Seekonk River. As the canoe passed along, an Indian 
standing on a large rock on the west bank hailed the pioneer with the now 
famous greeting, 'What cheer, Netop [friend]?' There is a tradition that 
Williams landed at this point, but it is more likely that he merely ex- 
changed greetings with the friendly native, moved on around Fox Point, 
and paddled up Great Salt River to the junction of the Woonasquatucket 
and the Moshassuck. It was around this point, near a fresh and copious 
spring, that Williams founded the new settlement. With him in his ven- 
ture were five companions, William Harris, John Smith, Francis Wickes, 
Joshua Verein, and Thomas Angell, all of them, like Williams, dissenters 
from the strict churchly practices of Massachusetts Bay. 

Availing himself of a knowledge of the Indian tongue, and relying on his 
previous reputation for friendliness, Williams secured from Canonicus 
and Miantonomi, chiefs of the Narragansett tribe, an oral grant of ' the 
lands and meadows along the two fresh rivers called Moshassuck and 
Woonasquatucket.' A formal deed to this plot was gained in March, 1638. 
The name chosen for the settlement, as well as an expression of the funda- 
mental social principle on which it was founded, is contained in a state- 
ment by Roger Williams; he wrote, 'Having of a sense of God's merciful 

256 Main Street and Village Green 

providence unto me called this place Providence, I desired it might be 
for a shelter for persons distressed for conscience.' The piety expressed 
in the naming of the settlement has been carried on in many of the street 
names, such as Hope, Benevolent, Benefit, Peace, Faith, and Friendship. 
Home lots were laid out, and as new arrivals came to the settlement at 
the head of Narragansett Bay, a lot was granted to each one provided 
that he met with the approval of the community at large. The home lots 
extended from Towne Street up and over Prospect or College Hill and 
back to the road then known as 'the highway,' now Hope Street. The 
early buildings were one-room structures of rough-hewn timbers, having 
an end chimney and thatched or shingled roofs. Interior conveniences 
such as chairs and cooking utensils were few and crude. Food was none 
too plentiful at first; tradition relates that a boiled bass served without 
trimmings of any kind was often considered a feast. Wells were dug in 
the street, any one of which might be used by several families. Orchards 
were planted and in the middle of them was later placed the family burial 
plot. In 1664 there were about fifty of these homesteads extending along 
Towne Street from present Olney Street to Fox Point. 

In addition to a home lot, each townsman was granted an acreage of 
pasture. There was some fishing and fur-trading, but agriculture was 
the chief pursuit. In 1646 a sort of communal gristmill was established 
by John Smith ; on certain days of the week Smith was obliged to receive 
and grind grain for his fellow townsmen, one-sixteenth of which became 
his own. His mill stood near the present intersection of Mill and North 
Main Streets, and near-by sprang up a tannery, a cattle pound, the first 
bridge, a jail, and the inevitable tavern. 

The inns or taverns, of which there came to be a good number, were very 
important in the life of the early community, and they offered an air of 
exhilarating conviviality that occasionally led to ill repute. Townsmen 
convened at the inns to conduct business, to exchange news, to gossip, 
and to hold public meetings. Listed among the proprietors of these 
establishments are men who were serving simultaneously as justices, 
tax-collectors, and the like, some of whom gained eminent reputations in 
Colonial politics and society. During the Revolution the taverns were 
meeting-places for organizations such as the Sons of Liberty when they 
convened to hatch up the plots against British law, which gave Provi- 
dence an enviable reputation in the history of American independence. 

At the time of King Philip's War, in 1676, the town of Providence had 
grown to a population of 1000. Many citizens engaged in the fighting, 
while Roger Williams barricaded the home of William Field for the pro- 
tection of women and children. In March, 1676, a band of Indians de- 
scended on the town and twenty-nine of its seventy-five houses were 
burned (see Indians). Among these was the home of John Smith, the 
miller, and town clerk. In order to save the town records from burning, 
he threw them into the Moshassuck River by his mill. All but eighty-five 
pages were preserved, and are now stored in a vault in the Providence 
City Hall. 

Providence 257 

In 1680 occurred an event that heralded the great period of commercial 
prosperity into which the city was about to enter. In that year Pardon 
Tillinghast built the first Providence wharf, a small beginning but one 
destined to convert the city from a simple agrarian hamlet to a com- 
mercial center of first rank. The rum-slave-molasses trade, privateering, 
and miscellaneous traffic with remote ports-of-call, brought great wealth 
to Providence merchants and romantic adventures to her seagoing sons. 
When commercial prosperity reached its peak in the late eighteenth and 
early nineteenth centuries, Providence flourished socially and culturally 
as well as economically. The four Brown brothers, John, Joseph, Nicholas, 
and Moses, were the town's leading merchants and citizens. They, in 
company with such men as Colonel Joseph Nightingale, Thomas Poynton 
Ives, and John Corlis, built magnificent mansions on the hill and filled 
them with art treasures from the far-flung ports to which their vessels 
penetrated. They took part in the establishment of schools and churches. 
Joseph Brown was not only an amateur architect of remarkable ability 
but also a professor of Experimental Philosophy at the college crowning 
the hill, where his brother Nicholas endowed a chair of Oratory and 
Belles-Lettres in 1804. Moses Brown donated land to a Quaker school 
that later adopted his name. 

The years just prior to the Revolution were full of excitement, social as 
well as political. In 1762, William Goddard established the first news- 
paper, the Providence Gazette and Country Journal. Stephen Hopkins, 
ten times chief executive of the Colony and one of its most distinguished 
citizens, published in Goddard's paper in 1764 the ' Right of Colonies 
Examined.' In the'i76o's an attempt was made to establish a theater, 
but after a brief life the 'Histrionic Academy' was forced to close its 
doors. A permanent theater was finally established in 1790 at the corner 
of Westminster and Mathewson Streets, where Grace Church now 
stands. On its curtain, now preserved in the museum of the Rhode 
Island Historical Society, was painted the legend, 'Pleasure the means; 
the end virtue.' 

In 1770, Rhode Island College (Brown University), established at Warren 
in 1765, moved to Providence (see Education). It is said that prior to 
this time, few people in Providence were able to read and write. Teachers 
were few. There were a few private schools where sons of the elect could 
go, but as soon as they could read the Bible, write, and do a sum in three, 
they were prepared to enter business, and usually did. 

The Market House, which stands in Market Square and is at present 
used by the Chamber of Commerce, was built in 1773. Two years later 
the First Baptist Meeting-House was erected, part of the cost being 
defrayed by a lottery. 

During the pre-Revolutionary period, when England's policies were 
threatening the prosperity of the Colonies and interfering with their 
commercial and political freedom, Providence had much at stake, and 
she engaged in several acts of rebellion. In 1772, a group of leading citi- 
zens, including John Brown and Samuel Whipple, plotted the burning of 

258 Main Street and Village Green 

the 'Gaspee,' a British revenue vessel which had run aground in Narra- 
gansett Bay off the present Gaspee Point in Warwick (see Tour 1). On 
March 2, 1775, the city followed Boston's example and held its own tea 
party. The Providence event was not a closed affair as Boston's had 
been the whole town was invited to attend. A large pile of tea was 
heaped up in Market Square, a barrel of tar was poured over it to insure 
a good blaze, and the pyre was crowned with a copy of one of Lord North's 
speeches. One patriot went up and down Towne Street painting out the 
word ' tea ' from shop signs, and housewives who persisted in their favorite 
tipple were compelled to take it in secret to avoid estrangement from 
their husbands. On May 4, 1776, the Rhode Island Independence Act 
(see History) was signed in the Old State House and read to the townsmen 
from Jabez Bowen's balcony on Market Square a point from which, 
sixteen years before, the accession of George III had been proclaimed. 

During the Revolution, Providence contributed to the common cause 
money, ships, and men there were 2000 under arms in 1775 but no 
fighting took place here. Forts were erected in the vicinity of Robin Hill, 
and at the highest point on Prospect Hill a beacon was posted to warn of 
British approach. Before and after the siege of York town, French troops 
under command of Count de Rochambeau were quartered in the ' College 
Edifice,' now University Hall of Brown University. 

Among the gala occasions enjoyed by the Providence citizens during 
this period were two visits from George Washington, one during the 
Revolution and one in 1790, when he was President of the United States 
and was given an honorary degree at Rhode Island College. The second 
visit marked a diplomatic ending to Rhode Island's perverse conduct in 
long refusing to ratify the Federal Constitution. In 1824, the city turned 
out to greet General Lafayette on his sentimental journey through the 
nation he had done so much for in its war for independence. 

After the Revolution and the eventual return of prosperity, Providence 
commercial enterprises expanded. British occupation had left Newport 
crippled. In 1790, it became necessary to dredge the Providence harbor 
to accommodate vessels of larger draft, and despite the difficulties en- 
countered because of decreased revenue and an embargo, commercial 
development reached its peak. A record of March 4, 1814, states that 
there were approximately 140 vessels tied up at the wharves. Because 
the War of 1812 was still being waged, this figure approximately repre- 
sents the number of vessels which made Providence their home port. 

In 1815 occurred 'the Great Gale,' a storm and flood that devastated 
much property and cost the town more than a million dollars. At that 
time the Moshassuck River was much wider than it is now, and the land 
lying approximately between present Exchange Place and the new State 
House was a great cove where the townspeople fished and sailed. In 
September, just after the sun crossed the line of the autumnal equinox, a 
wind from the southwest blew up with such violence that the tide rose 
ten or twelve feet higher than the spring tide peak. The lower streets of 
the town were flooded, and the rush of water demolished houses and other 

Providence 259 

buildings. According to a contemporary report, thirty-five sail piled up 
at the head of the Cove. Ships anchored below Weybosset Bridge broke 
their moorings and carried the bridge away as they rushed in on the tide. 
Vessels invaded the streets, and the third-story wall of a building on the 
west side of Market Square was pushed in by the bowsprit of the ship 
' Ganges.' Pleasant Street in North Providence became 'the anchorage 
of a burthensome sloop.' After the storm had subsided, citizens returning 
to their homes on Westminster and Weybosset Streets found furniture 
and other property swept away, and in their stead ' a deposit of filth and 

Providence recovered quickly from this catastrophe. The industrial era, 
instituted by Samuel Slater's textile mill a few miles north in Pawtucket, 
had already begun in 1790. Between that year and 1820 the city's popu- 
lation increased from 6380 to 11,745 an increase that was to pyramid 
itself later in the nineteenth century when industrialism reached its full- 
grown stride. 

In 1828, the Arcade was built. This was an imposing addition to the grow- 
ing city and a forerunner of the many large buildings that have taken 
the place of former homes along Westminster and Weybosset Streets. 
Three years later, in November, 1831, the city was incorporated. Ac- 
cording to the charter adopted at that time, the government of the City of 
Providence was to consist of a Mayor, a Board of Aldermen, and a Com- 
mon Council. This is substantially the same as the present government, 
although the original six wards have increased to thirteen. Each ward is 
entitled to one alderman and three councilmen. 

With the exception of a few riots between sailors and Negroes, nothing 
occurred to disturb the peace of the new city until the Dorr Rebellion in 
1842 (see History), and the Civil War in 1861. In the latter, Providence 
was enthusiastically in favor of the Union. Her most distinguished soldier 
in the conflict was Ambrose E. Burnside (see BRISTOL). 

By the time of the Civil War, commerce had been almost completely dis- 
placed by the industrialism that constitutes the city's present economic 
foundation. Textile and jewelry industries, with their affiliates, played 
the most outstanding roles in this change (see Industry). As early as 1835 
a factory-mutual insurance system had been established, the first of its 
kind in the country. In 1856, Cullen Whipple, of Providence, obtained 
a patent for the first machine to make pointed screws. Banks, insurance 
companies, and improved transportation facilities supported industrial 
development. Large numbers of foreign-born immigrants, chiefly Italian, 
Swedish, Portuguese, and French- Canadian, moved in to supply labor 
for shop and mill (see Foreign Groups). These and other incoming na- 
tionalities have usually grouped themselves in special sections of the city 
from which each has offered its own distinctive contributions to the life 
of the community at large. For a long time nearly all these groups were 
unassimilated, but now that the older generations are being supplanted 
by their native-born progeny, an increasing homogeneity is apparent. 
Notable exceptions to this are the Portuguese, who are divided among 

260 Main Street and Village Green 

themselves into groups which do not intermingle, and the French- 
Canadians who, by virtue of their speech, religion, and sense of racial 
solidarity, are inclined to resist Americanization as they for so many years 
resisted Anglicization. 

The Italians there are over 50,000 either foreign-born or second- 
generation Italians stand out notably both by number and activity 
in city affairs. The largest settlement is in the Federal Hill area, bounded 
approximately by Broadway, Tobey, West Exchange and Aborn Streets, 
where at least half of the Italian population lives and works. They have 
functioned as laborers, shop and stand keepers, cobblers, barbers, and the 
like. At present there is an increasing number graduating from colleges 
and entering professions. All but about 2 per cent are of the Catholic 
faith. It is estimated that Italians have about $20,000,000 in Providence 
banks. The Federal Hill Market area around Balbo Avenue offers an 
Old World atmosphere, especially at night. Along the streets are carts 
piled high with fruits and vegetables. Indoors are displays of cheeses, 
meat and fish cured in the Italian manner, olive oil, a wide variety of 
typical farinaceous products, and all manner of other foodstuffs pleas- 
ing to the Italian palate. Shrill cries, excited crowds, mingled odors and 
color, above which occasionally arises the whine of a grind organ, render 
this gustatory paradise an exciting experience for those who enjoy the 
more vivid aspects of human activity. 

As Providence industrialism progressed, greater attention to social con- 
ditions became imperative. Hospitals were established, and agencies for 
the promotion of education and health were set in motion. In 1934 more 
than $8,000,000 was spent on social service in the city, 51 per cent for 
family welfare and relief, 10 per cent for child care, 33 per cent for public 
health and the organized care of the sick, including mental hygiene, and 
about 6 per cent for recreational and group work. Governmentally sup- 
ported services contributed 68 per cent of the grand total, the balance 
being supplied chiefly through private donations. 

With the influx of foreign elements, the population of Providence in- 
creased rapidly, from 11,767 in 1820 to 50,666 in 1860, to 175,597 in 1900, 
and to 252,981 in 1930. Extensive alterations took place in the physical 
appearance of the city. The new State House on Smith Hill, completed 
in 1900, not only changed the city's aspect, but signified that Providence, 
by a constitutional amendment adopted in November of that year, had 
become capital of the State. By this time the Cove had been filled in and 
had disappeared. Residential sections spread out to the farthest limits 
of the city and surrounding areas. Large office buildings were erected, 
the latest and finest being the New Industrial Trust Building which at 
night sends a beam of light far out over the waters of Narragansett Bay 
where H.M.S. 'Gaspee' once went disastrously aground, and where the 
roadstead was formerly full of tall sailing ships returning with wealth 
from Honduras, Guadaloupe, and Canton. 

Providence 261 

TOUR 1 1 m. 

PROVIDENCE, because its historic and business districts are so com- 
pact, is most conveniently seen on foot. This tour covers the historic 
northeastern region, including the oldest part of the city; it begins at the 
Providence County Courthouse, whose S. Main St. entrance is on the site 
of the city's iSth-century shipping center. The river bank was once 
much closer to this point than it is now, and when sea trade was at its 
height this region was a ' forest of masts.' 

For convenience the tour begins at narrow Hopkins St. which descends 
the hill by the south side of the Courthouse. 

N. from Hopkins St. on S. Main St. 

i. The Providence County Courthouse, 30 S. Main St., was dedicated in 
1933. It houses the State Supreme Court as well as six Superior Courts, 
and the offices of the Attorney-General and other legal functionaries. 
The northeast section of the site was occupied by the former Superior 
Courthouse and, still earlier (1723-1860), by the old 'Towne House.' 
When construction was begun on the present building in 1927, this part 
of S. Main St. was a narrow one-way thoroughfare and the space now 
covered with a broad lawn was occupied by a row of three-and-a-half- 
story buildings containing wholesale fruit markets. 

The Courthouse is constructed of red brick with limestone trim, and is a 
modern adaptation of Early Republican architecture. In the late eight- 
eenth century no building of such tremendous size as this would have been 
considered practical, nor could an eight-story building have been con- 
structed in the days of wooden beams and framework. Designed by 
Jackson, Robertson and Adams of Providence, this towered and gabled 
structure covers an entire city block, and its plan is well adapted to a 
steep hillside plot. A secondary entrance, on Benefit St., is at the fifth 
floor level. Projecting wings at each end, connected by two arcaded en- 
trances and a Corinthian colonnade, form a forecourt. Pediments on the 
wings, suggestive of gable ends, rise in three successive stages a motif 
that is repeated in the central section in front of the tower. The building 
not only rises with the hill, but its entire mass is given a sense of balance 
by the lofty square tower which, rising in four square stages to a slender 
octagonal cupola, is the dominant feature of the exterior. The third 
stage, surrounded by a balustrade, has a clock on each side. The formal 
arrangement of windows in the gable ends is monumental in effect. The 
large central windows, flanked by slender pilasters and crowned with a 
semicircular heading, are further emphasized by projecting balconies. 
The uppermost tier of windows in the facade, for the sake of lightness 
and balance, is doubled in height, the windows being arched at the top 
and divided in the middle by pediments set in panels. The fine central 
doorway, with its segmental pediment supported by engaged Roman 

262 Main Street and Village Green 

Doric columns, is unfortunately obscured by the front colonnade. The 
interior is modern and furnished in tasteful simplicity. 

North of the Courthouse, S. Main St. becomes, for about a block and a 
half, Market Square. The name not only applies to this small section of 
the street, but to the area on its west side, extending to Canal St., and to 
the short street just north of the Old Market House (see below). 

2. Abutting Market Square on the east, with its main entrance at 14 
College St., is the Rhode Island School of Design. The high caliber of the 
work of this school is recognized throughout the world of art and handi- 
craft. It was incorporated in 1877 and classes were begun in 1878, with 
its first quarters in the Hoppin-Homestead Building at 357 Westminster 
St. In 1895 the school was moved to a new building on Waterman St., 
and its quarters have since been substantially enlarged. Except for the 
Providence Washington Insurance and People's Bank buildings, the 
school and its museums occupy the entire block bounded by N. Main, 
Benefit, College, and Waterman Streets. The Helen Adelia Rowe Met- 
calf Building, which flanks the entire lower half of College Hill, was com- 
pleted in 1937. Designed by Jackson, Robertson and Adams, who also 
designed the Providence County Courthouse across the street, its archi- 
tecture harmonizes with that of the other structure. The School of 
Design Building, unlike the Courthouse, rises on the hill in a number 
of separate units, and its decoration is more conservative. 

Originally founded for the teaching of textile design, the school still offers 
courses pertaining to Rhode Island industry, covering the entire fields of 
textile, jewelry, and machinery design. The curriculum also includes 
complete courses in the fine and graphic arts, costume design, interior 
decorating, and similar subjects; evening extension courses are offered 
throughout the school year. 

The western end of the building is part of the Old Franklin House, a four- 
story brick structure erected in 1823, that for many years served as a 
famous hostelry; the lower floors were later converted into stores while 
the upper fulfilled various functions, at one time being a dormitory for 
Brown University students. The original west end, as well as the old 
entrance to the stable yard a short distance up College St. hill, have been 
incorporated in the new school building. 

3. The Old Market House (L), center of Market Square, was begun in 
1 7 73 to provide a place for farmers to congregate and sell their products. 
The arched windows on the first floor once formed an open arcade where 
teams could drive in. The second floor has served variously as a banquet 
hall, sleeping quarters for French soldiers, and as the office of Samuel 
W. Bridgham, first Mayor of Providence. Tablets on the building com- 
memorate two historic events: the Providence Tea Party on March 2, 
1775, when the townspeople burned a large consignment of English tea, 
and the Great Gale of 1815, the September 'line storm' that hoisted the 
river above the first floor. 

The third story was added in 1797 by the St. John's Lodge of Free and 

Providence 263 

Accepted Masons, which had been established at Providence in 1757 and 
held its meetings at various taverns, private homes, and in the Council 
Chamber of the old State House on N. Main St. (see No. 17). In ac- 
cordance with provisions of the original deed, the premises were sold to 
the City of Providence in 1853 at the 'then value' of $3550. Members of 
the lodge included many of the town's leading citizens, such as John 
Brown, Jabez Bowen, William Barton, and others. Thomas Smith Webb, 
famous as the author of 'The Freemason's Monitor, or Illustrations of 
Masonry,' and founder of the American system of chapter and encamp- 
ment Masonry, was a member of the lodge during his residence in Provi- 
dence; after his death in 1819 at Cleveland, Ohio, his remains were 
brought here and given a Masonic ceremony in the North Burial Ground 
on N. Main St. 

Joseph Brown, who designed many Providence buildings and con- 
tributed to others, collaborated on the design of this structure with 
Stephen Hopkins. It is severely simple in line and mass, having a nicely 
proportioned parapet with balustraded openings over the windows, and 
an unusual use of brick in the cornice for a double dentil course. 

4. At 20 Market Square is the Site of the Jabez Bowen House. Built in 
1745 by Daniel Abbott, it later became the property of Jabez Bowen, a 
native of Providence who took a remarkably active part in city and State 
affairs from his graduation at Yale in 1757 to his death in 1815. An origi- 
nal member of the Board of Fellows of Rhode Island College, he suc- 
ceeded Stephen Hopkins as Chancellor in 1785. He was one of the three 
amateur astronomers who observed the transit of Venus in 1769 (see 
No. 81). His public career included membership in the Town Council, 
1773-75, service as Major and later Colonel in the State militia, 1774-77, 
as a Justice of the Superior Court in 1776 and Chief Justice in 1781; with 
the exception of one year he was Deputy Governor from 1778 to 1786, 
a delegate to the Annapolis convention in 1786, a member of the State 
Convention which ratified the Federal Constitution in 1790, and Loan 
Commissioner during Washington's two terms. 

From the balcony of this house were proclaimed the accession of George 
III and the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington was 
entertained here March 13-14, 1781. The house became the Manu- 
facturers' Hotel after Bowen's death and was replaced by the present 
building in 1850. 

At NE. corner of Market Square, N. Main St. begins. 

5. Cheapside, 28-32 N. Main St., a four-story brick building containing 
stores and offices, was erected in the late i87o's. Its name is the last sur- 
vival of the fashionable Colonial shopping district on North Main St. 
between Market Square and Waterman St. The name was derived from 
the section by that name in London. 

6. East Side Electric Car Tunnel, cor. N. Main and Waterman Sts., was 
completed in 1914 to replace the counter- weighted 'grip' cars which ran 
up and down College Hill. 

264 Main Street and Village Green 

7. The Site of the Roger Williams Meeting-Place, N. Main St. at entrance 
to street-car tunnel, where Roger Williams was accustomed to address 
his fellow townsmen, is indicated by a bronze tablet. 

8. The First Baptist Meeting-House, N. Main St. bet. Waterman and 
Thomas Sts., is architecturally and historically one of the most famous 
buildings in New England. Its tall, white spire rises now amid a con- 
glomeration of later structures, but its wide lawns and elevated site still 
suggest the crowning position it held in early Providence. Joseph Brown 

merchant, astronomer, philosopher, and one of Rhode Island's famous 
amateur architects designed the building, and the construction was 
supervised by James Sumner of Boston. The spire, rising from its base 
above the clock tower, is the only part of the building not original, for its 
design was copied from a plan made by James Gibbs, an English architect 
whose 'Book of Architecture . . ., Designs . . . Ornaments' was in the pos- 
session of Joseph Brown. It remains a remarkable piece of workmanship, 
a tribute to Brown's taste and Sumner's ability. The first stage is square 
and open, adorned with coupled Ionic pilasters with arched opening, 
entablature, and pediment on each side while the octagonal second and 
third stages have arched windows and are adorned with Corinthian 
pilasters. Vase ornaments at the angles, proportionally smaller at each 
stage, minimize the effect of the set-backs. The proportionate height of 
the stages and their transition from square to octagon is very ably 

The spire rests on a projecting square tower with a modillioned cornice 
and wooden quoins at the corners like those of the main structure. A 
slightly projecting pedimented pavilion, at the base of the tower, with 
a small pedimented portico, forms the entrance motif in the west end, the 
principal facade. Above the Doric portico is a palladian window of rather 
stilted proportions. The body of the building is 80 feet square, and has 
the unusual feature of two tiers of round-headed windows. The roof is 
low-pitched and the aspect of the building, because of its squareness, is 
one of comfort, spaciousness, and great dignity. The all-white interior is 
trimmed in wood. The vaulted ceiling, five bays in length, is supported 
by two rows of fluted Tuscan columns. 

The church was built by the first Baptist society in America (founded in 
1639). In 1775 the Reverend James Manning, lately come to Providence 
as head of the institution later to be called Brown University, consented 
to preach to this congregation and plans were immediately set afoot to 
erect a building 'for the publick worship of Almighty God; and also for 
holding Commencement in,' a dual function which it has fulfilled ever 
since. Steeples with bells were frowned upon by the Baptist fellowship 
in 1775, but the Providence congregation erected one nevertheless. In 
the steeple hung a bell bearing this inscription: 

1 For freedom of conscience the town was first planted, 
Persuasion not force, was used by the people: 
This church is the eldest and has not recanted, 
Enjoying and granting bell, temple and steeple.' 

Providence 265 

The original bell, four inches thick, is still in use although it has been 
recast several times. 

During the Great Gale of 1815, when lesser structures were swept away, 
this sturdy church edifice held firm; the tall spire 'wavered and bent to 
the blast, but it fell not.' Some modifications have been made, such as the 
installation of an organ in a rear balcony formerly occupied by slaves, but 
such changes are few and great care has been taken in the building's 

R.from N. Main St. on Thomas St. 

This street, one block long, can be considered the artistic center of 

9. The Fleur de Lys Building, 7 Thomas St., was erected in 1886 by 
Sidney R. Burleigh, known as the 'Dean of Rhode Island Artists' until 
his death in 1929; it was designed by Edmund R. Willson, one of the 
city's leading architects. Its design is freely adapted from the lyth- 
century Norman and Breton style of architecture, and is a good example 
of the half-timbered type. The unique decorations in the wood and stucco 
are the work of Mr. Burleigh. The building is given over entirely to 

10. The Deacon Edward Taylor House, 9 Thomas St., was built about 
1790 by Edward Taylor, a deacon of the First Congregational Church. 
It is a three-and-a-half story structure with interior end chimneys and an 
exceptionally steep gable roof that emphasizes the building's height. It 
remained in the family for many years and was later used by the Pen and 
Pencil Club of Rhode Island. Workmen making alterations in the late 
1 9th century declared that it contained the finest Colonial carpentry 
they had ever seen. It is now the headquarters for the Community School 
of Music. 

11. The Providence Art Club (open weekdays 10-6, Sun. 12-6, free), 
ii Thomas St., occupies this brick house, its quarters extending across 
the Palladian-windowed archway to the upper stories of the adjoining 
frame house. The latter, with a market now on its lower floor, was built 
by Seril Dodge in 1787 and sold shortly thereafter to John and Nicholas 
Brown. Dodge then built the three-story brick structure on the adjoining 
lot in 1793. It is much less pretentious in size than the earlier house. The 
hip roof, broken by a four-sided tier of full-length windows, was con- 
structed in the i88o's to allow sufficient light for the club's gallery. Or- 
ganized in 1880, the club has two kinds of membership, lay and artist, 
the former being limited to 400, the latter unlimited but contingent upon 
ability. In the same building is the headquarters of the Providence Water 
Color Club, organized in 1896, a group interested in water colors, pastels, 
drawings, and prints. In addition to having a permanent display of 
paintings, the club opens its galleries from October to June for exhibitions 
by its members and others. In this house Seril Dodge, and his brother, 
Nehemiah, began the great Rhode Island silverware industry (see 

266 Main Street and Village Green 

Retrace on Thomas St., crossing N. Main St. into Steeple St. 

12. At the corner of Steeple and Canal Sts. is the Site of the Clarke and 
Nightingale Dock, from which point the famous ship * Providence' sailed 
for China and the East Indies in 1773. 

Retrace on Steeple St., L. on N. Main St. 

13. The Joseph Russell House, 116 N. Main St., was originally three 
stories high but has been raised to admit a store on the ground floor. 
The original structure is virtually intact, with none of its features dis- 
turbed. It is of brick, square in plan with a low-hipped early monitor 
roof and a doorway with segmental pediment supported by engaged 
Corinthian columns. On the south side is a semicircular bay, a later 
addition. The present color scheme, yellow with brown trim, does not 
set the house off to advantage. It was erected in 1773 by Joseph Russell, 
a merchant later engaged in the China trade. During the stay of the 
French army in Providence, Count de Chastellux was billeted here. 
Washington gave him permission to travel at will through the Colonies, 
and he later wrote a book called 'Travels in North America,' recording 
his observations. 

R. from N. Main St. on Meeting St. 

14. The 'Shakespeare's Head' House, 21 Meeting St., offers little at 
present to indicate that it was once one of the most important buildings 
in Providence. Square in plan, three stories in height with a low-hipped 
roof and a large square central chimney, the structure retains its grandeur 
of dimension, but is otherwise in disrepair. Built in 1763, it was used by 
William Goddard as the print shop for the Providence Gazette and Country 
Journal, the first Providence newspaper. John Carter, who came to 
Providence in 1767 after serving an apprenticeship in printing under 
Benjamin Franklin, took over the paper. When Franklin became Post- 
master-General he appointed Carter as the postmaster of Providence, a 
position which he filled for 20 years, using this house as the post office. 
Stationery and books were on sale as well, and the sign of ' Shakespeare's 
Head' atop a pole advertised this latter function. The house was a 
favorite meeting-place for influential citizens of the early town. There is 
also a tradition that it was once an 'underground station' for runaway 

15. The Brick School House, 24 Meeting St., was erected in 1769; during 
the Revolution it was used as a storage place for munitions. In 1800 one 
of the first free public schools in the United States was instituted in this 
building. It was enlarged in 1850, and for many years was used as a school 
for Negroes. In 1908 it housed the activities of the first fresh air school 
in the country, a function which it continues to fulfill. 

Retrace to N. Main St., R. on N. Main St. 

16. The Friends Meeting-House (not open), cor. of N. Main and Meeting 
Sts., was erected in 1844-45 to replace the older Friends Meeting-House 
which was moved at that time to Hope St. (see No. 98). The stables at 

Providence 267 

the side of the present building are a relic of the time when members came 
to church in carriages. 

17. The Old State House overlooks N. Main St. above a broad lawn be- 
tween N. and S. Court Sts. When the Old Colony House burned down in 
1758, this famous building was erected to take its place and from its 
opening in 1762 until 1900, when the New State House was dedicated, it 
was used as a meeting-place for the General Assembly. Here on May 4, 
1776, the Rhode Island Independence Act was passed which declared the 
Colony free from English dominion two months before the Declaration 
of Independence in Philadelphia. Many famous people, including Wash- 
ington, Jefferson, Lafayette, and John Adams, were received in this 
building. On the front lawn, formerly known as the Mall, once stood a 
whipping post. 

The old part of the structure is of brick with a peculiar dark brown 
* weathered ' hue, laid in Flemish bond. The extreme angles of the rusti- 
cated stones over the windows are unusual. The building is trimmed in 
sandstone, and the projecting front entrance and tower, built in 1850-51 
(the same year in which the rear wing was added), have stone corner 
quoins; the pediment of the doorway is supported by two rusticated sand- 
stone columns. 

1 8. The Site of the Pillory, is near the SW. cor. of N. Main and Hay- 
market Sts. Although the use of the pillory as punishment for civil 
offenses was discontinued early in Colonial history, one stood here as late 
as 1837. 

R.from N. Main St. on N. Court St. 

19. The Samuel Bridgham House, 42 N. Court St., is a two-and-a-half- 
story Georgian Colonial house once occupied by Samuel W. Bridgham, 
the first mayor of Providence, and it was here that his inauguration took 
place in 1832. Of the usual five-bay width, it has a gable roof and two 
end chimneys. The doorway has a triangular pediment supported by 
Ionic pilasters. A two-bayed addition on the east end has spoiled the 
symmetry of the house. It was built about 1790, and originally stood at 
the corner of N. Main and N. Court Sts. 

Retrace on N. Court St. } R. on N. Main St. 

20. The Site of the Roger Williams House is at the rear of 235 N. Main St. 
At the time of its founding, the town of Providence extended from Wil- 
liam Arnold's house, a little north of the present corner of N. Main and 
Star Streets, south to William Harris' house, near the present corner of 
N. Main and Cady Streets. Roger Williams' house was near the center. 
The cellar of the house was excavated, measured and photographed in 
1906, and on the house at the corner of North Main and Howard Streets 
the State has erected a tablet reading, 'A few rods east of this spot stood 
the house of Roger Williams, founder of Providence, 1636.' 

21. The Roger Williams Spring, 242 N. Main St., is memorialized by the 
tradition that Roger Williams and his followers landed here in June, 1636, 
to utilize its fresh and clear water. According to a Proprietors* Grant 

268 Main Street and Village Green 

of 1721 'liberty is reserved for the inhabitants to fetch water at this 
spring forever.' In 1869 the spring was walled up and a pump placed on 
Canal St. A building was erected over the site but was torn down in 1928 
when Justice J. Jerome Hahn donated the land as a public park in memory 
of his father. The present terrace, well-curb, and steps were designed by 
Norman M. Isham, F.A.I. A., of Wickford. 

22. St. John's Episcopal Church (Cathedral of St. John; known also as 
the Pro- Cathedral), 271 N. Main St., was founded by Gabriel Bernon, a 
Huguenot refugee, and Nathaniel Brown, in the early i8th century. The 
present building has lancet windows, colonnettes supporting a crown- 
roofed portico, and two multi-columned piers at the west end of the in- 
terior features containing an early suggestion of Gothic, visually if not 
structurally, for the building is a simple rectangle in shape with a gable 
roof and a domed ceiling that obscures all posts and beams. It was de- 
signed by John Holden Greene, built in 1810, and dedicated the following 
year to replace an earlier church, known as King's Chapel (1722). The 
burial ground (open to the public via the parish house beside the cathedral or 
from the Bishop McVickar House at 66 Benefit St.) has existed since the 
early i8th century and contains the graves of many famous Rhode 

The Gabriel Bernon Grave is in the crypt of St. John's Church, 271 N. Main 
St. Bernon, a French Huguenot, was instrumental in establishing the 
Episcopal Church in America. He donated the land, part of his home lot, 
on which St. John's is built. 

23. On N. Main St. near Mill St. is the Site of the First Mill, owned by 
John Smith. The grant for this mill, issued on March i, 1646, was the 
first in Rhode Island. The miller's name has been perpetuated in Smith 
Hill and Smith St. 

At the junction with Mill St., N. Main St. bears right and goes uphill. 
Benefit St. begins at the summit. 

Sharp R. from N. Main St. on Benefit St. 

24. 30 Benefit St., Inc. (open weekdays 9-9), 30 Benefit St. Once known 
as the 'old Angell house,' this three-story brick mansion is now head- 
quarters for an art center operated by Leisure Time Activities, Inc. 
Instruction and materials are provided here, at a nominal fee, fora great 
diversity of arts and crafts, and the large stable in the rear has been con- 
verted into a theater. The registered weekly attendance at the center 
is between 400 and 500. 

25. The Bishop McVickar House (private), 66 Benefit St., once owned by 
the Slater family, was given to Brown University in 1900 as a dormitory 
for the Women's (later Pembroke) College. It was purchased by Bishop 
McVickar's sister shortly after his death in 1910, and after being properly 
fitted out was presented by Miss McVickar to the Episcopal diocese v of 
Rhode Island in memory of her brother. It now serves as headquarters 
for diocesan missions and other activities. The burial ground of St. 
John's Cathedral can be reached from the property. 

Providence 269 

26. The Sarah Helen Whitman House (private), 88 Benefit St., a two-and- 
a-half-story, gable-roof, late Colonial structure (about 1790), was once 
the home of the young widow courted by Edgar Allan Poe in 1845. For 
her he wrote two of his famous poems, 'To Helen' and 'Annabel Lee.' 
They become affianced, but the engagement was broken because of family 
objections to Poe's dissolute habits. Mrs. Whitman was a poet in her 
own right (see Literature). 

27. The Sullivan Dorr House (private), 109 Benefit St., was designed and 
built about 1810 by John Holden Greene for Sullivan Dorr, father of 
Thomas Wilson Dorr (see History). A three-story late Georgian Colonial 
frame dwelling, suggestive of Alexander Pope's villa at Twickenham, the 
house has one of the last Palladian windows of the period. 

28. Behind the Sullivan Dorr House is the Roger Williams Grave, which 
is on part of the founder's original property. In the i86o's the grave was 
opened and an apple tree root was found to have invaded the tomb. Some 
loam from the grave was placed in the Stephen Randall tomb in the 
North Burial Ground, later being transferred to an inscribed metal con- 
tainer and placed in the main cemetery vault. The grave is marked with 
the base of a column broken in the construction of the Arcade (see No. 67). 

29. The Seagrave Mansion (private}, 119 Benefit St., was for many years 
the home of George A. Seagrave, textile merchant and banker, and of his 
son, Frank E. Seagrave (1859-1934), world-famed astronomer. In the 
rear is a brick and wood cylindrical structure built by the latter in 1878 
as an observatory. At that time it housed one of the largest telescopes 
in the country. The house is now used as an apartment building. 

30. The Golden Ball Inn, 159 Benefit St., was erected by Frank Rice in 
1784. A very large structure for its time, it is four-and-a-half stories in 
height, with a gable roof and simple triangular-pedimented dormers above 
all the windows. Originally it had the usual five-window width, but had 
a subsequent addition built on the south end. The central balcony shows 
evidence of having been raised and the double doorway is obviously of a 
later date, although the central pedimented window is probably original. 
Known at various times as the Daggett Tavern, Mansion House, and 
Roger Williams House, it was for many years a social center of the town. 
Among distinguished guests at dinners and balls held here were Washing- 
ton, John Adams, Jefferson, Lafayette, Monroe, Madison, and James 
Russell Lowell. At present the old inn rents rooms for light housekeeping. 

31. The Old Arsenal (or Armory) (open), 176 Benefit St., is a fortress-like 
structure with white concrete veneer, two square towers, and a great 
studded door. It was erected in 1840 and almost immediately put into 
service to house the State troops when the procession of the Dorrites was 
directed against it (see History). It was used by the State troops during 
the Civil War and is now an armory for the Providence Marine Corps of 
Artillery and the Machine Gun Battery. Offices of District I of the 
Providence Department of Public Welfare are also housed here. 

270 Main Street and Village Green 

L. from Benefit St. on Meeting St., up the steps to Congdon St., L. on Cong- 
don St. 

32. Prospect Terrace, Congdon St. at foot of Gushing St. This small park 
was established about the middle of the igth century, largely through the 
efforts of Isaac Hale, a merchant of Cheapside, who particularly enjoyed 
the panorama of the city from this spot. Grading on a northern addition 
was begun in 1935 as a site for the new Roger Williams Memorial Monu- 
ment. The magnificent elm on the Congdon Street sidewalk is over 200 
years old. 

R. from Congdon St. on Cushing St. to Prospect St., R. on Prospect St. 

33. The First Church of Christ, Scientist (not open), cor. Prospect and 
Meeting Sts., has a high green dome that can be seen from many points 
in the city. Designed in the Neo-Classic style by Hoppin and Ely, the 
building was begun in 1906 and completed in 1913. 

Because it was one of the highest points in the city, this site was used for 
a beacon during two important periods in Providence history. The first 
beacon, erected in 1667, served to warn of Indian attack; the second, in 
1775, to herald the approach of the British. Smoke was used by day and 
fire by night. Joseph Brown (see Industry) was master of the beacon in 
pre-Revolutionary days, and four wardens were appointed to 'rig the 
kettle.' It is said that once when this second beacon was tested, it was 
seen as far away as Cambridge, Mass. 

R.from Prospect St. on Angell St. 

34. The Benson House (private), 64 Angell St., was once the property of 
Captain George Benson, a well-known shipping merchant whose trade 
was chiefly with South America and China. Built in 1796, it is a square 
frame structure of conservative Georgian Colonial design, with a parapet 
rail and deck on the roof and a porch with a finely carved segmental 
pediment supported by two Roman Doric columns. 

L. from Angell St. on Benefit St. 

35. The Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art (open weekdays 
10-5, Sun. 2-5, adm. 25 Mon., Wed., Fri., other days free), 224 Benefit 
St., contains 41 galleries, 13 of which display water colors and oils by such 
well-known artists as Whistler, Manet, Copley, Sargent, and Winslow 
Homer. In addition to its permanent collections it also affords space for 
traveling exhibits of famous modern and ancient paintings. Two galleries 
display plaster casts of the masterpieces of classic and Renaissance sculp- 
ture. Elsewhere are to be found examples of Classic, Renaissance, Gothic, 
Chinese, Japanese, and Persian art; there are also galleries devoted to the 
exhibition of fine laces, embroideries, textiles, pottery, and jewelry. 
The museum was designed by William T. Aldrich and built in 1920. 
Adjoining it is the Colonial House containing the famous Pendleton Col- 
lection of antique furniture, china, textiles, and paintings. It was do- 
nated by Stephen O. Metcalf, designed by Stone, Carpenter, and Willson, 
and opened in 1906. 

Providence 271 

36. Memorial Hall (not open), Benefit St. between Waterman and College 
Sts., is a brownstone two- towered Romanesque structure belonging to 
the Rhode Island School of Design and containing classrooms and an 
auditorium. Begun in 1851, the building was the property of the Benefit 
Street Congregational Society) an organization originally chartered in 
1836. The building was used as their house of worship until 1893, when 
a new and larger structure, at 296 Angell St., was completed. 

TOUR 2 0.5m. 

E. from NE. corner College and Benefit Sts. 

This point offers an excellent view of the buildings in the center of modern 
Providence, framed in the foreground by the northern end of the Provi- 
dence County Courthouse (L) and the Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf Build- 
ing of the Rhode Island School of Design. 

College St. is one of the main arteries over College Hill to the east side 
residential section and tributary highways into Massachusetts. This 
street, and all the others going over the hill, become perilous with the first 
snowfall and are immediately sanded, day or night, by men in huge trucks 
that back up the hill to be sure of traction. 

37. The Site of the Old Town House is now occupied by the northeast 
corner of the Providence County Court House. There is no marker to 
indicate the site. Here the First Congregational Society built a meeting- 
house in 1723. It became the property of the town in 1794 when the 
society moved to new quarters. The original building was demolished 
in 1860 to make way for the Superior Courthouse, which in turn was 
razed in 1929 prior to erection of the present structure. The land was part 
of the home lot of Chad Brown, one of the original settlers of Providence. 

38. The Providence Athen&um (open weekdays 9-5), SE. cor. College and 
Benefit Sts., was incorporated in 1831. Five years later it was joined 
with the older Providence Library Association, founded in 1753, by virtue 
of which the Athenaeum lays just claim to being one of the oldest libraries 
in the country. At the time of incorporation the combined libraries were 
installed on the second floor of the Arcade, but in July, 1838, they were 
moved to the present quarters on College Hill. This building was designed 
by Russell Warren and James C. Bucklin, and upholds with taste and 
restraint the traditions of the Greek Revival. Although its appearance 
is marred by a series of skylights on the low roof ridge, the facade, with 
its deep rectangular loggia supported by two fluted Doric columns, and 
its well-proportioned pedimented gable, presents a broad, solid, forth- 
right appearance. 

At first the Athenaeum shared space with the Franklin Society and the 
Rhode Island Historical Society, but in 1849, the library was left in full 
possession of its ivy-covered building. The institution is controlled by 

272 Main Street and Village Green 

over 1000 shareholders and its aim is to furnish a home library 'larger, 
better arranged, more useful and more attractive than that within the 
means of any individual shareholder.' Loan privileges are reserved for 
shareholders, with special rates for students and teachers. Among the 
many treasures preserved here are about 50 books from the original 
library of 1753 which survived a fire by being out on loan. Some of these 
were purchased by Stephen Hopkins and Moses Brown. The literary 
courtship of Edgar Allan Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman was very largely 
conducted within the corridors of this venerable building. The library 
preserves a December issue of Colton's American Review for 1847 con- 
taining the anonymous poem ' Ulalume, ' below which Poe inscribed his 
author's signature when Mrs. Whitman showed it to him admiringly. 
The Athenaeum houses about 121,000 volumes, and its Art Room con- 
tains a Van Dyke, a Reynolds, and 'The Hours,' perhaps the most noted 
work of America's celebrated miniature painter, Edward G. Malbone. 

39. The Truman Beckwith House (private), 42 College St., was designed 
in 1820 by John Holden Greene for Truman Beckwith, banker and cotton 
merchant. The house itself, including the L-shaped east wing, is charac- 
teristic of Greene's brick structures. The windows, surmounted by heavy 
stone lintels, are large in proportion to the wall space. The window above 
the doorway, with its sidelights and elliptical fan-light, may be found in 
many of Greene's houses of this period. It corresponds to the shape of 
the doorway and supplants the Palladian window of the strictly Georgian 
Colonial houses. The monitor roof, incorporating a cupola, is one of 
the period's typical structural features. The design has been used on 
the easternmost unit of the Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf Building of the 
School of Design, directly across Benefit St. The house now serves as 
headquarters for the Handicraft Club, Inc., and the laundry and stables 
once occupying the east wing have been converted into club rooms and a 
tea room, with appropriate Colonial furnishings. 

40. At the SW. cor. of Prospect and College Sts. is the Site of the Uni- 
versity Grammar School. When Rhode Island College was moved from 
Warren to Providence in 1770, Dr. Manning, its first president, brought 
with him a 'feeder' school which he had previously started. A building 
was erected here in 1809 and housed the school until 1898, when it was 
replaced by the present Brown University Administration Building. 

41. The John Hay Library, NW. cor. College and Prospect Sts., serves 
as the main library of Brown University. An impressive four-story 
marble edifice in monumental Georgian Colonial style, it was designed 
by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, erected in 1910, and named for John 
Hay (Brown, 1858), distinguished Secretary of State under Presidents 
McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. 

The library of Rhode Island College (now Brown University) was founded 
in 1767. In 1770, containing about 250 volumes, it was transferred from 
Warren to the new University Hall in Providence. During the Revolution 
when University Hall was commandeered for the use of troops, the library 
was moved to Wrentham, Mass., for safe keeping. Some of these books, 

Providence 273 

as well as the old deal table in whose drawer some of them were kept, are 
still preserved. When a battered University Hall was returned to the 
authorities of the school in 1782 the books were brought back from 
Wrentham unharmed. Since that time the library has outgrown its first 
home, a larger repository in Manning Hall (1834), and the building 
erected for the purpose in 1878 at the SE. cor. of Prospect and Waterman 
Sts., occupied by the Department of Economics. Already the present 
building is overtaxed for space for the University's 500,000 volumes. 
Vacant ground to the north of the present library will eventually be 
occupied by an addition. 

The John Hay Library houses several collections of more than average 
interest, among them the Harris Collection of American poetry and plays, 
and the Rider Collection of Rhode Island history. Messrs. Harris and 
Rider were among the group which 50 years ago made Providence re- 
nowned as a center for fine private libraries. The Lincoln Collection, the 
most complete in the world, contains over 700 of the President's manu- 
scripts. Among students of the life of Lincoln who use this collection, 
the poet Edgar Lee Masters has been a familiar figure for several years. 
The Hoffman Collection contains many valuable prints, contemporary 
miniatures and other relics of the era of Napoleon. 

42. Brown University, on the summit of College Hill, is the oldest college 
in Rhode Island and the seventh oldest in the United States. In 1764 a 
charter, providing for a majority of Baptists on the Boards of Trustee and 
Fellows, was granted by the Colonial legislature for the founding of Rhode 
Island College. Among other provisions there was one stipulating 'into 
this Liberal and Catholic Institution shall never be admitted any Re- 
ligious Tests but on the Contrary all the Members Hereof shall forever 
enjoy full free Absolute and uninterrupted Liberty of Conscience.' The 
college was founded at Warren in the following year with the Reverend 
James Manning as first president. In 1770, as the result of a popular 
subscription endowment of $15,000, the institution was moved to Provi- 
dence to occupy an eight-acre tract of land on College Hill. In the same 
year the ' College Edifice,' now University Hall, was erected. In 1775 the 
First Baptist Meeting-House was made available for commencements. 
During the Revolution, from 1776 to 1782, college exercises were sus- 
pended and the College Edifice was converted into barracks for French 
and American troops. Following the war, teaching activities were re- 
sumed and in 1804 the name was changed to Brown University in recog- 
nition of a gift from Nicholas Brown for the endowment of a chair of 
Oratory and Belles-Lettres. 

From these beginnings the University has grown to an institution num- 
bering approximately 1250 men undergraduates, 460 women under- 
graduates, and 280 graduate students. (A separate college called Pem- 
broke is maintained for women undergraduates with a campus of its own, 
but which offers substantially the same curriculum as Brown and employs 
the same faculty.) There are nine laboratories, three libraries, and a social 
headquarters and theater called Faunce House in honor of the late Presi- 

274 Main Street and Village Green 

dent William H. P. Faunce. The Ladd Astronomical Library is about 
a mile from the campus, and in it is preserved the instrument used by 
Joseph Brown, Jabez Bowen, and Stephen Hopkins in observing the 
transit of Venus in 1769. Also about a mile from the campus is the new 
athletic equipment comprising a stadium which seats 25,000 people, four 
baseball diamonds and other playing fields, and a large, fully equipped 
gymnasium. Elsewhere a number of tennis courts are maintained. A 
swimming pool is located on the campus. There are nine residence halls 
for men and five for women. The total area occupied at present is about 
40 acres. 

The most substantial growth of the University took place under the 
administrations of Presidents Elisha B. Andrews (1889-98) and William 
H. P. Faunce (1899-1929), when enrollment, faculty, and endowment 
were greatly increased, and most of the buildings in the middle and back 
campuses (see No. 42B, 42C) were erected. The University offers a wide 
variety of courses in the liberal arts and sciences, and maintains an active 
place in the roster of higher educational institutions in the United States. 
Its history is very closely allied to the cultural development of Providence. 

At the entrance to the University grounds are the Van Wickle Memorial 
Gates, designed by Hoppin and Koen, of New York, and Hoppin and Ely, 
of Providence. Erected in 1901, their over-all length, including the walls, 
is 80 feet. The large central portal is flanked by two smaller portals. 
Each has a canopy and gate of wrought iron. The center portal is used 
only on Commencement morning when the graduating class makes its 
exit, and on special ceremonial occasions. 

42A. Directly inside the Van Wickle Gates is the Front Campus, which 
contains, left to right, the following buildings: Came Tower is a tall square 
structure of red brick with vertical .channeling, surmounted by a gold- 
domed cupola. The black-faced clock, with its gold hands and numerals, 
strikes the hours and is a convenient time-piece for the students except in 
early fall and late spring, when it is obscured by the elms. It was designed 
by Guy Lowell and erected in 1904 as a memorial, donated by her husband, 
to Carrie Mathilde Brown Bajnotti, daughter of ' the late Nicholas Brown 
of Providence.' Hope College, 1822, the second building of the University, 
now is used as a dormitory. Manning Hall, 1835, which once housed the 
library on the first floor (see No. 41) and the chapel on the second, was 
designed by Major James C. Bucklin, a prominent early nineteenth- 
century Rhode Island architect, as a simplified version of a prostyle 
Doric temple. It is an excellent example of the Greek revival in American 
architecture. Today the building is used as a lecture hall. The lower floor 
contains many statues and models belonging to a former Classical Mu- 
seum. University Hall, the original ' college edifice ' until given its present 
name in 1823, was built in 1770 from a design supervised by Joseph 
Brown and suggested by that of Nassau Hall at Princeton University. 
It is a long four-story structure with a central pedimented pavilion, a 
low hipped roof surmounted by a deck and a cupola. The last contains 
the bell by which classes are summoned and dismissed. The building, 

Providence 275 

long used as a dormitory, now houses many administrative and faculty 
offices and the Departments of English, History, and Greek and Latin 
Classics. Slater Hall, 1879, * s a four-story red-brick dormitory. Rhode 
Island Hall was built in 1840 for the Departments of Geology and Philos- 
ophy, which it still contains. Classes in Mineralogy, the first in the coun- 
try, had been begun at Brown University in 1837, and the new building 
housed a rare collection of minerals for its time. 

L. from Van Wickle Gates, across campus past Manning Hall and Hope 
College, through gate to Waterman St. 

At the NE. cor. of Waterman and Prospect Streets is a Venetian Gothic 
structure built in 1878 as the college library. It now contains the library 
and headquarters of the Department of Economics. 

43. The Rhode Island Historical Society (open weekdays 9-4, Sun. 3-5, 
Tues. eve. 7-9; during Aug., weekdays only 9-1), 68 Waterman St., was 
founded in 1822. Its building opposite the Brown campus was erected in 
1844, with an addition built in 1890. It contains over 100,000 volumes 
dealing with Rhode Island history, genealogy, and kindred matters. 
There are also more than 200,000 leaflets, manuscripts, early newspaper 
clippings and pamphlets. 

The society maintains in the same building a museum of memorabilia 
pertaining to Rhode Island's past. There is an exhibit of Indian stone 
implements and weapons, a primitive basket, a large log canoe, and bones 
from Indian graves. Among the many Colonial and early Federal relics 
are a drum carried at Bunker Hill, a pair of rubbers belonging to the 
Marquis de Lafayette, the famous apple tree root which is said to have 
consumed the phosphates from the bones of Roger Williams, and Oliver 
Hazard Perry's brave flag with its exhortation: 'Don't give up the ship.' 

44. The Edward Dexter House (private), 72 Waterman St., was erected in 
1799, probably by Edward Dexter, on the approximate site of Brown 
University's present Rhode Island Hall. It is a house gay with structural 
decoration. Rising two and a half stories from its elevated site, it is 
rectangular in plan with a hip roof surrounded by a parapet and sur- 
mounted by a deck. The parapet is balustraded over the windows. Posts 
with urn finials stand between each alternation of balustrade and panel; 
their frequent recurrence is extravagant in effect. The balustraded porch 
has a Greek entablature, with well-defined metopes and triglyphs, and is 
supported by slender Roman Doric columns. Above the porch is a Pal- 
ladian window. The roof line is broken by a pediment surmounting a cen- 
tral portion flanked by colossal fluted Tuscan pilasters. Under the modil- 
lions of the cornice and pediment, is a simple, delicately wrought fret 
course. The entire facade is painted white. At some time in its history 
the house was sawed in halves and moved, a half at a time, to its present 
site. The saw mark is still visible in the entablature of the porch. 

45. Faunce House (R), whose archway is opposite the end of Brown St., 
extends across the north end of the Brown University Middle Campus 
and has entrances on both the campus and Waterman St. The old portion 

276 Main Street and Village Green 

of the building, to the right of the archway, was erected in 1904 and called 
Rockefeller Hall. The name was changed in 1931, when the archway and 
addition were built, to Faunce House, in memory of former President 
William H. P. Faunce. The building contains a completely equipped 
theater, dining-rooms, recreation rooms, a store, an art gallery, an exhibi- 
tion room, and offices for student activities. 
R. from Waterman St. through Faunce House Archway. 
426, 420. Middle and Back Campuses of Brown University. The first 
building (L) on the walk through the Middle Campus is Rogers Hall, 
erected in 1872. It has always contained classrooms and laboratories, and 
at present it also houses the Department of Political Science. The rear 
part of the building, known as the Newport-Rogers Laboratory, is occu- 
pied by the Graduate School of Chemistry. The next building is Sayles 
Hall, the college chapel, in which is a portrait gallery (open weekdays 
9.30-5, or on application to caretaker, free) of former presidents, professors, 
and others important in the history of Brown University. The building 
also contains classrooms and the headquarters, including library, of the 
Department of Biblical Literature. Wilson Hall, erected in 1891, is de- 
voted to mathematics, containing classrooms, departmental headquarters, 
and library. 

The last building on the Middle Campus is the John Carter Brown Library 
(open weekdays 9-5, Sat. 9-1), a one-story stone building of Greek Neo- 
Classic design, with many antefixes along the eaves; it was designed by 
Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge and completed in 1904. It contains the 
world's most famous collection of Americana and is visited yearly by 
hundreds of scholars in search of old maps, books on Spanish America, on 
the Indians, and on Colonial history in general. The main reading room 
is constructed and furnished as a 'gentleman's library,' and its fireplace, 
glass-windowed bookcases, high ceiling, and carpeted floors provide a 
tranquil, studious atmosphere. The collection was begun by John Carter 
Brown (1797-1874), the youngest son of Nicholas Brown and a grandson 
of John Carter, the second printer in Providence (see Literature). Very 
early in his career as a collector, Brown began to concentrate on what may 
be described generally as printed books dealing with the Western Hemi- 
sphere from its discovery to the year 1801. His collection was already far- 
famed in 1865 when the first printed catalogue was compiled by John R. 
Bartlett. At Brown's death the collection, then numbering about 7500 
volumes, came into possession of his son, John Nicholas Brown (1861- 
1900), by whose will in turn the books were transferred, in 1904, to the 
University, with a $500,000 endowment for its upkeep. The librarian, 
Dr. Lawrence C. Wroth, is one of the country's leading authorities and 
writers on American Colonial history. 

The Back Campus can be reached on the walk between Sayles and Wilson 
Halls. The first building (R) is Maxcy Hall, erected in 1895, which now 
serves as a dormitory for the Graduate School. Its first floor and basement 
accommodate the Department of Botany. The Georgian building directly 
behind Maxcy Hall is Littlefield Hall, a dormitory completed in 1926. 

Providence 277 

From the top of the steps, east of Maxcy Hall, can be seen the following 
buildings (L to R): Lyman Gymnasium (with turret), once used for all 
indoor athletic and physical training purposes from its completion in 1891 
until 1927, when it was superseded by the new building at Aldrich Field, 
Elmgrove Avenue; Colgate Hoyt Pool, the skylighted annex to the gym- 
nasium, built in 1904; Arnold Biological Laboratory^, a four-story building 
devoted to the Department of Biology, completed in 1914; M etcalf Chem- 
istry Laboratory, dedicated in 1923, containing a library, auditorium, and 
laboratories; Memorial Arch, erected in memory of Brown men who lost 
their lives in the World War; Caswell Hall, a dormitory, built in 1904; 
Engineering Building, erected 1903, housing the Department of Engineer- 
ing, classrooms, laboratories, and the Corthell Engineering Library; the 
department has two overflow buildings outside the campus. The small 
building between Caswell Hall and the Engineering Building is Hegeman 
Cottage, an annex to Hegeman Hall, a dormitory built in 1926. 

Retrace to Middle Campus; L. through John Nicholas Brown Gate to George 

TOUR 3 1 m. 

S. from George St. on Brown St. 

This tour covers the part of the East Side residential section in which are 
the city's finest old mansions. 

46. Annmary Brown Memorial (open weekdays except Mon. and Sat. 
10-5; free), 21 Brown St., houses a fine collection of early specimens of 
printing and illustration, which has been described by A. W. Pollard of 
the British Museum as 'the history of the first fifty years of printing.' 
The memorial was erected in 1907 by General Rush Hawkins in memory 
of his wife, Annmary Brown, and a crypt within the building contains 
their tombs. Designed by Norman M. Isham in simple classical style, 
the facade of this rectangular granite structure has only a simple cornice 
over the doorway. Two wrought bronze doors symbolizing Art and 
Learning are at the entrance. In addition to the library, the memorial 
contains a collection of portraits, paintings, family heirlooms, and Civil 
War relics. 

47. The Faculty Club (not open), 13 Brown St., once a private residence, 
is the social headquarters for the faculty of Brown University. On the 
first floor are dining, recreation, and lounging rooms; on the second and 
third are rooms and apartments for unmarried faculty members. 

L. from Brown St. on Power St. 

48. Thomas Poynton Ives House (private), 66 Power St., was built in 1811 
for Thomas Poynton Ives, an original member of the firm of Brown and 
Ives. It is one of the largest and most handsome of Providence mansions 
of the Georgian Colonial style. Its plans originated in England, probably 

278 Main Street and Village Green 

in one of the architectural books widely circulated in America during the 
late 1 8th century (see Architecture}. Its brick, an unusual shade of red, 
was also imported from England. The mass of the house, set off to advan- 
tage by its location on an open corner, is impressive, and the workmanship, 
noticeable especially in the beautiful elliptical-arched window over the 
doorway and the parapet rail on the roof, is flawless. The semicircular 
portico was designed by Stone, Carpenter and Willson, and added to 
the house in the i88o's. 

R. from Power St. on Thayer St. 

The area at the northwest corner of Power and Thayer Streets is the 
Thayer Street Field, owned by Brown University and used for football and 
baseball. Diagonally across the corner from the field are the Brown Uni- 
versity Tennis Courts (open to the public in summer at a nominal hourly 

R. from Thayer St. on Williams St. 

49. The Edward Carrington House (open weekdays except Mon. 1-5. 
Free to faculty and students of Rhode Island School of Design; adm. 50f, 
children, 25), 66 Williams St., is a three-story, gray-brown brick man- 
sion, of Early Republican design, built in 1813 by John Corlis and shortly 
thereafter purchased by Edward Carrington, a prominent shipping mer- 
chant of the period. Architectural records are scarce, but it is believed 
that the third story was a later addition. The two-story porch, with its 
superimposed orders and elaborate jigsaw work, is obviously of later 
date. Having a facade similar to many of the other Colonial mansions, 
it is notable for its stone corner quoins and the rustications around the 
window openings and around the elliptical fan-lights over the doorway 
and central second-story window. The house remained in the Carrington 
family until June, 1936, when it was given to the Rhode Island School of 
Design as a memorial to the Carrington family and as a ' lasting illustra- 
tion to future generations of a Providence homestead of the beginning 
of the 1 9th century.' The house contains, in addition to many fine Colo- 
nial furnishings, some rare examples of Chinese handiwork collected by 
the elder Carrington, whose trade was largely with the Orient. 

R.from Williams St. on Benefit St. 

50. The John Carter Brown House (Nightingale-Brown House) (private), 
357 Benefit St., is one of the largest frame Colonial houses in existence. 
It was built in 1792 by Colonel Joseph Nightingale and purchased by 
Nicholas Brown in 1814. Its design, of English influence, is attributed 
to Caleb Ormsbee. The house is square in plan, having a low hipped roof 
with balustrade, surmounted by a deck. The pediment of the central 
pavilion interrupts the roof line and is repeated by a higher pediment 
rising to the deckrail. The tympanum of each pediment is of glass with 
splay ribs, an unusual treatment. The structural decoration of the house 
is lavish, with large quoins at the angles of walls and pavilion, a dentil 
course and modillions beneath the cornice. A beautiful Palladian window 
is set above the entrance. In this house John Carter Brown gathered the 

Providence 279 

famous collection of Americana now housed in the John Carter Brown 
Library on the Brown University campus. 
R. from Benefit St. on Power St. 

51. The John Brown House (private), 52 Power St., was described by 
John Quincy Adams in 1789 as the most magnificent and elegant mansion 
he had seen in this country, and it remains today as one of the finest 
examples of late Georgian Colonial architecture. Designed by Joseph 
Brown for his brother John, the house was begun in 1786 and was more 
than two years in construction. Almost square in plan, this three-story 
edifice, with its central pavilion and pediment, is built of red brick and 
has an exquisite balustraded parapet above the cornice. Its trim is white 
wood and sandstone, the stone being used for lintels over the windows and 
columns of the porch. There is a marked contrast between the red col- 
umns of the porch and its white classical entablature and balustrade. 
Above the doorway is a Palladian window with elaborately leaded side- 
lights. The doorway itself is of exquisite design, bordered by panels and 
side-lights and surmounted by an elliptical fan-light; a delicately carved 
transom rail, in the form of a modillioned cornice, extends between the 
fan-light and the door. The interior is extraordinarily rich in decoration. 
'The stairs,' according to Antoinette Downing in her authoritative 'Early 
Homes in Rhode Island,' 'with twisted balusters and ramped rail, take 
their traditional place at the back of the hall. Their decoration, however, 
as well as the decoration of the hallway itself, is elaborate and formal in 
a manner new to domestic buildings in Rhode Island.' Varied pediments 
surmount the interior doorways. 

In Colonial days the house was the scene of many fashionable balls, and 
for a long time the annual commencement dinners of Brown University 
were held in the dining-salon. In the year of the Rhode Island Tercen- 
tenary (1936) the house was opened to the public for inspection of its 
design and its many priceless art treasures. By gift of the present owner, 
the mansion will eventually become the property of the Rhode Island 
School of Design. 

Retrace on Power St.; R. on Benefit St. 

52. The Burnside House (private), 314 Benefit St., is of red brick with a 
corner turret and was built by Nicholas Brown about 1850. For a time 
it was the home of General Ambrose E. Burnside, Colonel of the First 
Rhode Island Regiment during the Civil War, later Major-General in 
command of the Ninth Army Corps, and for a time head of the Army of 
the Potomac. After the war he was Governor of Rhode Island and later 
United States Senator (see BRISTOL). 

53. The Unitarian Church (not open), cor. Benefit and Benevolent Sts., 
originally the First Congregational Church, though old, is the congrega- 
tion's third edifice. The first home of this parish was erected in 1723 at 
Benefit and College Streets, where the new Courthouse stands. In 1795 a 
new building with two towers was erected on the present site, destroyed 
by fire in 1814, and replaced by the present building in 1816. It is dis- 

280 Main Street and Village Green 

tinguished by having in its steeple the largest bell cast in the foundry of 
Paul Revere and Son. The structure, designed by John Holden Greene, is 
a fine example of early 19th-century ecclesiastical architecture. Rec- 
tangular in plan, with a projecting tower and portico on the west end, a 
well-proportioned steeple and a great arched window over the entrance, 
the building has incorporated the refinements of the Early Republican 
period. It is very well proportioned and somewhat urbane in its assimi- 
lation of classical motifs. The pediment over the three doors, enframing 
the arch of the central window, is a bold and unusual departure, yet so 
well executed that it attracts little notice. The interior has a domed ceil- 
ing similar to that of St. John's Church. 

54. The Colonel Shepley Library (private), 292 Benefit St., a one-story 
stucco and limestone structure, was erected in 1921 by the late Colonel 
Shepley to house his private library containing over 30,000 Rhode Island 
historical items. It is kept intact by his daughter, Mrs. Ernest T. H. 
Metcalf, and is opened only to research students upon request. 

R. from Benefit St. on Benevolent St. 

55. The Crawford Allen House (private), 12 Benevolent St., was designed 
in 1820 by John Holden Greene and is one of his finest brick houses. 
Larger in scale than many of his others, it is distinguished by its excellent 
proportion of window to wall space. The house has a low hip roof with 
balustraded parapet, and a typical central window and doorway with 
elliptical fan-light and side-lights. 

L. from Benevolent St. on Megee St., L. on George St. across Benefit St. to 
Hopkins St. 

56. The Stephen Hopkins House, corner of Benefit and Hopkins Sts. 
(open Tues., Thur. 2-5,/ree), was completed in 1755 and is a good example 
of a moderate-sized Colonial dwelling. The doorway is asymmetrically 
disposed because of the four-bay treatment of the facade. It is framed 
by pilasters and a pediment, and has a typical mid-century rectangular 
transom. Originally the house stood on the northeast corner of Hopkins 
and S. Main Streets, but in 1804 it was moved halfway up Hopkins Street. 
In 1927, to make way for the new Court House, it was taken over by the 
State, moved to its present location, and restored by Norman M. Isham. 
It was built as the home of Stephen Hopkins, 10 times Governor of the 
State, member of the Colonial Congress, Chief Justice of the Superior 
Court, and first Chancellor of Brown University. General Washington 
was a guest here in 1776 and again in 1781. One of the many well- 
preserved relics is the bed in which Washington slept. The house is kept 
in repair by the Rhode Island Branch of the National Society of Colonial 

Providence 281 

TOUR 4 1.5 m. 

This tour, beginning with a circuit of Exchange Place, the civic center of 
modern Providence, covers the downtown business and shopping district. 
E. from Dorrance St. on Exchange Place. 

This site, in addition to the railroad station and yards and a further area 
to the north and west, was once covered by water and known as the 
'Cove.' In the iS/jo's much of the southern portion was filled in and the 
'Cove Basin' was formed, which became a favorite fishing and sailing 
spot for the townspeople. Additional filling in as the demand for land 
increased finally eliminated the cove basin by the end of the igth century. 

57. In the middle of Exchange Place is The Mall, distinguished for its 
well-kept lawns and shrubbery. It contains the Soldiers' and Sailors' 
Monument, a Civil War memorial designed by Randolph Rogers, cast 
in Munich, and dedicated in 1871; and at the eastern end a Spanish War 
Memorial called 'The Hiker,' designed by T. A. R. Kitson, cast by the 
Gorham Co. of Providence, and dedicated in 1925. 

58. The New Industrial Trust Building, 55 Exchange Place through to 
in Westminster St., is 26 stories high and dominates the Providence 
skyline, standing far above the other buildings. It attains an over-all 
height of 416 feet and is surmounted by a lantern visible for many miles 
at night. Designed by Walker and Gillette of New York, and George 
Frederic Hall of Providence, the building is distinguished for the manner 
in which the architects have handled the rectangular plan, with its central 
tower and grouping of six wings. The bas-reliefs, by Charles H. Hum- 
phries, on the belt-course beneath the first set-back, with their representa- 
tions of historic events, form an acknowledgment of the past which lends 
to the building a New England kinship (see Architecture). The site was 
once a farmers' exchange, and in 1872 Cyrus Butler erected here the once- 
famous Butler Exchange, a six-story office and studio building with four 
corner towers in the style of the French Renaissance. It was demolished 
in 1926 to make way for the present building, which opened for business 
October i, 1928. 

L. across E. end of Exchange Place. 

59. The Federal Building, at east end of Exchange PL, is a four-story 
building of Italian Renaissance style, designed by Clarke and Howe of 
Providence and dedicated in 1908. 

60. City Hall Park lies in front of the railway station and extends from 
Exchange Terrace to Dorrance St., being divided in the middle by 
Francis St., which runs beneath the station. Like the Mall, it has well- 
kept lawns, walks, and seasonal flower gardens. In the eastern section is 
the Burnside Equestrian Statue, executed by Launt Thompson and dedi- 
cated in 1887 to General Ambrose E. Burnside, the only New England 




1. Providence County 51. 

John Brown House 
Unitarian Church 
Stephen Hopkins House 
The Mall 
New Industrial Trust 


Federal Building 
City Hall 
Providence Public Li- 


Beneficent Congrega- 
tional Church 
Grace Church 
The Arcade 
Providence National 

Bank Building 
Memorial Square 
Joseph Brown House 
Point Street Bridge 
State House 
Moses Brown School 
Dexter Asylum 
Cathedral of SS. Peter 

and Paul 

Court House 

2. Rhode Island School of 


3. Old Market House 

8. First Baptist Meeting 

16. Friends Meeting House 

17. Old State House 

38. The Providence Ath- 


39. The Truman Beckwith 


41. John Hay Library 

42. Brown University 

43. Rhode Island Historical 


48. Thomas Poynton Ives 


49. Edward Carrington 


50. John Carter Brown 

(Nightingale- Brown) 

282 Main Street and Village Green 

officer of the first rank in the Civil War (see Bristol}. Also in the E. section 
of the park is the Carrie Brown Memorial Fountain, designed by Enid 
Yandell and erected in 1901. At night it is illuminated with lights of 
changing colors. It was the gift of Paul Bajnotti of Turin, Italy, in mem- 
ory of his wife, Carrie Mathilde Brown. The ' Struggle of Life ' is depicted 
in the figures around the fountain. In the western section of the park, 
facing the Biltmore Hotel, is the Major Henry II. Young Monument, also 
known as The Scout. The monument was erected in 1911 and its sculptor 
was Henri Schonhardt. Major Young was Chief of Scouts under Major- 
General, Sheridan in the Civil War. 

61. The City Hall faces the west end of Exchange Place. Designed by 
Samuel J. F. Thayer and dedicated in 1878, the building has a central 
portion and tower similar to that of the Pavilion d'Horloge of the Palais 
du Louvre. 

Straight ahead from Exchange Place on Washington St. 

The street forming the northern boundary of Exchange Place becomes 
Washington St. at Dorrance St. 

62. The Providence Public Library (open weekdays 9-9, Sun. 2-9), NW. 
cor. of Washington and Empire Sts., was designed by Stone, Carpenter 
and Willson and completed in 1900. The library, with its affiliated 
branches, owns and circulates about 450,000 volumes, including several 
notable collections pertaining to the Civil War, art, music, drama, science 
and industry, architecture, and folklore. The building is of brick, lime- 
stone, and granite, designed in the Italian Renaissance style. Its con- 
struction was made possible chiefly through a gift of the late John Nicho- 
las Brown. 

L. on Empire St. to Weybosset St.; L. on Weybosset St. 

Weybosset St. follows the line of an arc, leaving Westminster St. near the 
river and joining it again at Cathedral Square, west of this point. 

63. The Beneficent Congregational Church (not open}, 300 Weybosset St. 
In 1743 half of the membership of the First Congregational Church ' with- 
drew and set up a separate meeting.' Under the leadership of Joseph 
Snow, a carpenter who later came to be known as 'Father' or 'Elder 
Snow,' they went into the woods, felled trees, and in 1750 erected a small 
building thenceforth known as 'Mr. Snow's Mee ting-House.' The con- 
gregation grew, necessitating several additions, until in 1808-09 it was 
replaced by the present two-story brick building. A large gilded dome, 
one of the conspicuous features of the Providence skyline, was added 
when the church was remodeled in 1836. The influence of the Greek 
Revival is notable here in the Doric portico, the Ionic columns in the 
interior, and the lantern surmounting the dome which is copied after the 
ancient choragic monument to Lysicrates, in Athens, considered one of 
the finest remaining examples of Corinthian architecture. The church 
is known locally as 'Old Round Top.' 

64. Abbott Park Place, 280 Weybosset St., adjoins the Beneficent Congre- 
gational Church. Daniel Abbott in 1746 made this property available 

Providence 283 

' for public use, passing and repassing, training and the like, always to be 
kept free from any buildings forever, or any other encumbrance, to the 
prejudice of the public forever.' Prior to that time it had been the front 
yard of his home which was situated where the Plantations Club now 
stands. The estate was known as 'Daniel Abbott's Paradise.' At one 
time it was called the 'Old Common,' and was used for drill once a year 
by the Sixth Company of Militia. The fountain, the first in Providence 
for public use, was erected in 1875. 

L. from Weybosset St. on Mathewson St. 

65. Grace Church (Episcopal), cor. of Mathewson and Westminster Sts., 
a brownstone Victorian Gothic church with octagonal spire, was designed 
by the famous Richard Upjohn of New York and consecrated in 1846. 
It is in the heart of the city on the site of Providence's first theater, built 
here in 1790. The chimes in the tower can be heard throughout the center 
of the city. 

R. from Mathewson St. on Westminster St. 

The center of the shopping district lies between Mathewson and Dorrance 
Sts. on Washington, Westminster, and Weybosset Sts. Many of the old 
turn-of-the-century buildings have one-story modern store fronts. Some 
of these architectural anachronisms are astonishing. On the south facade 
of the French Renaissance building at the corner of Westminster and 
Eddy Sts., the lower two- thirds of an engaged Corinthian column has 
been removed to accommodate a store window, thus giving the impression 
that the column is hanging in mid-air. 

66. The Site of Howard Hall is occupied by the Howard Building, at the 
northeast corner of Westminster and Dorrance Sts. The old hall was used 
for concerts and lectures, and among its famous visitors were Abraham 
Lincoln, Jenny Lind, Thackeray, Henry Ward Beecher, George William 
Curtis, and Artemus Ward. 

67. The Arcade, traversing the block from 130 Westminster St. to 65 
Weybosset St., is one of the most interesting remains of the Greek 
Revival period in America. Ionic columns support a pediment at the 
Westminster Street entrance and an attic at the Weybosset Street end. 
It was designed by J. C. Bucklin and Russell Warren, and built in 1828, 
the columns having been cut from a granite quarry in Johnston and 
hauled here on specially constructed gear by 15 yoke of oxen. Each of 
these columns weighs 13 tons, and with the exception of some recently 
erected in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York they are 
the largest monolithic columns in America. One was broken in the haul- 
ing. Its base marks Roger Williams' Grave, and the remainder is on the 
Field lot in the North Burial Ground. The erection of this building fore- 
shadowed the removal of the Providence business district from Cheapside 
to its present location. In 1828 new and attractive merchandise offered 
in this three-floor bank of shops was the delight of the fashionable folk 
of the town. 

68. The Providence National Bank Building, 100 Westminster St., was 

284 Main Street and Village Green 

erected in 1929 when the bank moved from its old quarters in the Joseph 
Brown House (see No. 73) at 50 S. Main St. Designed by Wallis E. 
Howe of Providence, the building is a free adaptation of the Early Re- 
publican style and its interior, with murals, open counters, and rich 
woodwork, is reminiscent of Colonial days (see Architecture). 

69. The Turk's Head Building, junction of Westminster and Weybosset 
Sts., stands on the site of an early Providence shop that displayed the 
sign of a Turk's head, formerly a figurehead on the ship 'Sultan,' that 
has been replaced several times, once during the Great Gale of 1815. A 
duplicate is to be seen in the museum of the Rhode Island Historical 
Society. The present V-shaped building displays a granite Turk's head 
on the belt course between the third and fourth floors. 

70. The Rhode Island Hospital National Bank Building, cor. Westminster 
St. and Washington Row, was erected in 1917. On the same site once 
stood the Washington Insurance Building which was wrecked by the ship 
' Ganges' in the Great Gale of 1815. On the corner of the building is a 
marker indicating the height of the water on the occasion. 

71. The Bridge, or Weybosset Bridge, extends from the railroad yards on 
the north to Crawford St. on the south. The area has been the site of 
many bridges since the construction of the original Weybosset Bridge in 
1660. The Crawford St. end of the bridge is equipped with gates and 
sloping curbs for the huge trucks that dump the city snow here during 
the winter. 

L. from Westminster St. on Washington Row. 

72. Memorial Square contains the World War Memorial, an impressive 
shaft designed by Paul Cret of Philadelphia. The polygonal base, fluted 
shaft, and surmounting figure are of Rockport granite and reach an over- 
all height of 115 feet. The figure, symbolizing Peace, is simple and mas- 
sive in execution. The devices on the base and shaft represent various 
patriotic State and national emblems. 

TOUR 5 0.8m. 

This tour covers S. Main St., a region more interesting historically than 
visually because most of the old buildings have suffered from lack of care. 

The address of the first point of interest, 50 S. Main St., follows 66-68 
and 72, and the logical number should be 76, but the occupants have re- 
tained the address of their old headquarters on the site of the southwest 
corner of the Courthouse. 

73. The Joseph Brown House, 50 S. Main St., is occupied by the historic 
firm of Brown and Ives and its affiliated interests. Built in 1774, it was 
the residence of Joseph Brown, one of the four famous brothers who 
figured so largely in the late 18th-century commercial prosperity of Provi- 

Providence 285 

dence. Brown, a merchant whose avocations included astronomy, phi- 
losophy, and architecture, designed this comfortable mansion for himself. 
Like the First Baptist Meeting-House, which Brown also designed, this 
dwelling is remarkable for its spaciousness. Of red brick with sandstone 
base, the building has a broad facade emphasized by a skillful placing 
of windows. It is three stories in height, with a parapet broken by a 
graceful double-curved or ogee pediment; and has a 'Captain's walk' on 
the roof ridge. The heavy modillions and dentils of the pediment are no- 
table for their excellent workmanship. The doorway is recessed a few 
inches, and its pediment, supported by fluted Ionic pilasters and Ionic 
columns, is of sandstone. The original doorway was in the second story; 
the present one was probably inserted shortly after 1801, when the house 
became the home of the 'Providence Bank,' the second oldest in the 
United States, which for the ten years from its founding in 1791 had 
occupied two upper-story rooms at 8 Hopkins St. The Providence Bank, 
later consolidated with the Merchants' National and now known as the 
Providence National Bank, occupied the Joseph Brown House until 
1929, when it moved to its new building at 100 Westminster St. 

74. The Providence Institution for Savings, 86 S. Main St., was the first 
savings bank in Providence and one of the oldest in the country. It was 
originally located on ihe first floor of the Providence Bank building at 
50 S. Main St. In 1854 the Institution was moved to its own building on 
the present site, a building which came to be known as the 'Old Stone 
Bank.' The present structure with its gold-ribbed dome was erected in 

It occupies the approximate Site of the Field Garrison House, named after 
William Field, erected as a fortification on advice of Roger Williams, and 
by direction of the Town Council, during King Philip's War. 

75. The Cooke House (private), 112-14 S. Main St., with its monitor 
roof, stone lintels over the windows, and elliptical-arched window over the 
doorway, is another good example of John Holden Greene's work. The 
house, once facing an identical structure across a gangway or courtyard, 
was built about 1825. It was occupied from 1825-39 by Benoni Cooke, 
grandson of Governor Nicholas Cooke, with whose name the house has 
become erroneously associated. 

76. Infantry Hall, 128-60 S. Main St. Designed by George W. Cady and 
erected in 1875 by the Providence Light Infantry Association, this huge 
Victorian Gothic building was for many years the scene of concerts by 
world-famous instrumentalists and singers; here the Boston Symphony 
Orchestra gave its regular concerts, the Arion Club held its recitals, and 
the Players' Club presented its plays. Today it is used principally as an 
arena for boxing and wrestling events. 

77. The Site of the Sabin Tavern is at the NE. corner of S. Main and 
Planet Sts. A tavern was built on this spot about 1763, probably by 
Capt. Woodbury Morris. Joseph Sabin occupied it from 1765 to 1773, 
during which time it was used as a place of meeting when the burning of 

286 Main Street and Village Green 

the 'Gaspee' was planned. The meeting is commemorated by a tablet 
on a new building which occupies the site. When the old building was 
torn down in 1891, the southeast room, in which the 'Gaspee' meeting 
took place, was joined to the house at 209 Williams St., now owned by 
the Gaspee chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This 
old tavern was the Providence depot of the first stagecoach line to Boston. 

L. from S. Main St. on Planet St. 

78. The Brown House (private), 17 Planet St., was a tavern at Pawtuxet 
Neck in the late i8th century. It was attached for debt by John Brown 
and moved across the river on scows. In the process half of it fell off and 
was lost. The old tavern bar still remains. 

Retrace on Planet St.; L. on S. Main St. 

79. The Talma Theater, cor. of S. Main and Power Sts., a two-story brick 
building with a semicircular portico, was erected as a church in 1833. 
During the Civil War it served as a morgue. Thereafter, for many years, 
it was a theater used by various amateur dramatic organizations. In 
1916 it became the Providence Boys' Club. 

80. The De Fersen House (private), 312 S. Main St., is an old structure, 
unimportant architecturally, named after Axel de Fersen, a young 
Swedish nobleman attached to the French court, and Rochambeau's 
aide-de-camp, who was billeted here during the stay of the French troops 
in Providence. De Fersen, a lover of Marie Antoinette, had come to 
America hoping to terminate his unpropitious attachment; he later drove 
the carriage in which Marie Antoinette and the royal family attempted 
escape from France, June 10, 1791. He is said never to have smiled after 
her execution. 

81. The Dolphin House (private), 403 S. Main St., is a two-story frame 
structure built by Joseph Tillinghast, a sailing captain, about 1770. The 
origin of its name is uncertain, but the house is thought to have been a 
tavern frequented by sailors in the time of the China trade and to have 
derived its name in that way. At one time it was the home of Albert 
Collins Greene, nephew of General Nathanael Greene. It is also known 
as the James-or Gladding House. 

L. from S. Main St. on Transit St. 

Transit Street received its name from the transit of Venus, which was 
observed in 1769 by Joseph Brown, Jabez Bowen, and Stephen Hopkins 
through an instrument set up about 100 feet east of the northeast corner 
of Benefit and Transit Streets. Planet Street also received its name from 
this episode. 

In this region there are several narrow streets running westward from 
S. Main to S. Water Streets. These lanes have been given such names as 
Doubloon, Sovereign, Bullion, Guilder, and so on. Unfortunately for the 
romantic associations implied, the names were bestowed in the i86o's 
by an imaginative city official. 

82. The Lightning Splitter House, is so called because of the very steep 

Providence 287 

pitch of the gables, not unlike the steep roofs of medieval architecture. 
The early history of the house is unrecorded. 

Retrace on Transit St.; L. on S. Main St. 

83. From the Point Street Bridge (R) can be had an excellent view of 
the harbor and downtown Providence. 


Northern Part of City 

84. Providence College, Eaton St. and River Ave., the youngest of Rhode 
Island's schools for higher education, was organized in 1917 by the Right 
Reverend Matthew Harkins, D.D. Its faculty is drawn largely from the 
Order of Friar Preachers (Dominicans) under whose auspices the college 
is conducted. Guzman and Harkins Halls are the two college buildings. 
Hendricken Field, with a seating capacity of 10,000, has recently been 
established. The enrollment is about 700. 

85. The State House, bounded by Francis, Gaspee, and Smith Sts., was 
designed by McKim, Mead and White of New York. It overlooks a 14- 
acre lawn. Ground was broken for the building in 1895, the cornerstone 
was laid 13 months later, and the building was officially occupied by the 
General Assembly on January i, 1901, after which date Providence 
became the State's only capital. Of white Georgia marble, it is 333 feet 
in length, 180 feet across the central portion, and 280 feet in height, from 
the terrace level to the top of the statue on the dome. Its style is that of 
the Early Republican period, and the building is distinguished for its 
architectural power and simplicity (see Architecture). 

86. The Brigham Young House (private), 1240 Smith St., a small brown 
cottage that has become a shrine to people of Mormon faith, was the 
birthplace of Mary Ann Angell in 1804. She married Brigham Young in 
1834, having met him in the Mormon colony at Kirtland, Ohio. She was 
his second wife, the first, Miriam Works, having died in 1832. When the 
practice of polygamy was incorporated in the Mormon religion about 
1842, Mary Ann Young apparently acquiesced but was given a separate 
house for herself. Because of her piety she gained great respect from her 
husband's followers and came to be known as 'Mother Young.' It is 
likely that the house on Smith Street was used by Brigham Young during 
some of his later visits to Rhode Island. 

Southern Part of City, on East Side of Providence River 

87. The Site of Fox Hill Fort is bounded by Fox Point Blvd., Thompson, 
Brook, and Wickenden Sts. There was a fort here during the Revolution, 
Esek Hopkins commanding the battery. In 1775 there were six 18- 
pound cannon and four smaller ones. 

288 Main Street and Village Green 

88. At Tockwotton Park, bounded by Fox Point Blvd., Ives, East, and 
Wickenden Sts., once stood the famous Tockwotton Hall, an inn patron- 
ized by travelers on the Boston and Providence Railroad after its estab- 
lishment in 1835. The rail terminal was located at near-by India Point. 

89. The Washington Bridge crosses the Seekonk River from Fox Point 
Blvd. The present structure, erected in 1930, is approximately on the 
site of the ferry landings which were used from 1739 to 1793. In the latter 
year the first bridge was erected here by John Brown. 

90. Roger Williams Square, bounded by Williams, Gano, Power, and 
Roger Sts., occupies the site from which Roger Williams was greeted by 
friendly Indians in 1636. Subsequent filling has placed the shore line 
beyond where it was at that time, and the actual ' What Cheer Rock ' is 
buried beneath the park. A monument in the park records the landing of 
WiHiams, the founding of the city, and the establishment of the principle 
of religious liberty. 

Southern Part of City, on West Side of Providence River 

91. Field's Point, at east end of New York Ave., marks the mouth of the 
Providence River. This land, much of which was cut away when the 
municipal dock was built, originally belonged to William Field. The 
town acquired it in 1825 and built a 'pest house ' or smallpox hospital on it. 
During the late igth century a shore resort famous for its clambakes was 
located on the point. Today, occupied by a lumber yard and the munici- 
pal dock, it is the mooring place for virtually all of the foreign cargo ships 
that enter Providence Harbor. 

92. Fort Independence, New York Ave. and Georgia St., has now been 
converted into a park. In 1775 Robin Hill and Sassafras Point were forti- 
fied and connected by earthworks. In 1812 these forts were strengthened 
and a third, Fort William Henry, was added at the southeastern ex- 
tremity of Field's Point. These have all disappeared except that on 
Robin Hill, now called Fort Independence. The State has erected a 
marker at the top of the hill, and the Works Progress Administration has 
restored the old fort, graded the land, and converted it into a park. Its 
high location, once used for spying on enemy ships, affords a fine view of 
Narragansett Bay. 

93. The Gorham Manufacturing Company (open weekdays 9-4; guides 
available), Earl St. near Reservoir Ave., manufactures more sterling 
silverware and more ecclesiastical articles than any other plant in the 
world, and it has the largest foundry for the casting of bronze statues, 
memorial tablets, and wrought metal doors. Silver plate is extensively 
manufactured. Every process in the production of fine metal ware, from 
the artist's design to the finished product, is carried on. It is especially 
interesting to watch the master craftsmen at their benches as they work 
at a craft which antedates recorded history and has numbered among its 
practitioners such outstanding artists as Benvenuto Cellini. The com- 
pany was founded in 1831 by Jabez Gorham, an apprentice to Nehemiah 

Providence 289 

Dodge, the first fine metal artisan in Providence. New methods such as 
electrolytic plating have revolutionized the technique of manufacture 
since that time, but the spirit of master craftsmanship remains the same. 

Eastern Part of City 

94. Moses Brown School, 257 Hope St., occupies a large tract of land 
flanked by Hope St. and Lloyd Ave. It is an outgrowth of a short-lived 
Quaker school in session at Portsmouth from 1784 to 1788. Moses Brown 
donated the present site, a part of his farm, for re -establishment of the 
school in 1819. The campus contains a large main building, several smaller 
ones, and complete athletic equipment. Much of its acreage is shaded by 
beautiful old elms. Activity has been uninterrupted since 1819, and it 
enjoys high standing among American preparatory schools (see Edu- 
cation} . 

95. The Dexter Asylum, bounded by Angell and Hope Sts., was left by 
Ebenezer Knight Dexter to the town in 1824 to be used as a poor farm. 
Dexter's will stipulated that a high stone wall should always enclose the 
ground, and the story is that the height was supposed to be nine feet, but 
the objecting neighbors managed to effect a compromise with the builders 
by having three feet of the wall put under ground. The will also demanded 
that the superintendent of the asylum give an accounting to the freemen 
of Providence once a year, and provided a sum for the ringing of church 
bells on the occasion. This ceremony is still performed every year. 

96. The Ebenezer Knight Dexter House (Stimson-Diman House, Diman 
House) (private), 300 Angell St., is a frame Georgian Colonial structure 
erected about 1800 either by Knight Dexter or by his son, Ebenezer 
Knight Dexter. It was purchased in 1811 by Alexander Jones who ar- 
ranged the roof with balustrade and chairs in order to enjoy the fine view 
of the bay on clear days. In 1837 John J. Stimson added the eastern 

97. The Governor Elisha Dyer House (private), 154 Power St., is one of the 
finer examples of John Holden Greene's frame houses, and was built in 
1818 for his own use. It was later occupied by Elisha Dyer, Governor of 
Rhode Island from 1857 to 1859, and by his son, Elisha, who was Gover- 
nor from 1897 to 1900. 

98. The Old Friends Meeting-House (not open), 77-79 Hope St., is a 
severely plain structure recalling the austerity of the early Quakers. 
Built in 1723, it was originally located on Stampers Hill near the foot of 
Olney Street. In 1784 it was moved to the corner of North Main and 
Meeting Sts., the site of the present Friends Mee ting-House. When the 
latter structure was erected in 1844-45, the ld building was moved to 
the location it now occupies. 

99. The Gaspee Room, where the burning of H.M.S. ' Gaspee ' was plotted, 
is an addition to the house at 209 Williams St. It was taken from the 
Sabin Tavern (see No. 77), and moved to this spot in 1891. 

290 Main Street and Village Green 

100. The Halsey Mansion (private), 140 Prospect St., was built in 1801 
by Thomas Lloyd Halsey, 'away out on his farm.' He was a famous bon 
vivant in Colonial days, and there is a legend that he kept live terrapins 
in his cellar. For many years during which the mansion was empty, 
Negroes in the vicinity were convinced that a piano-playing ghost haunted 
the property. They would not enter the house under any circumstances, 
and at night always gave it a wide berth. It is also said that a blood-stain 
on the floor has defied many years of scrubbing. 

101. St. Joseph's Church, cor. Hope and Arnold Sts., a granite Victorian 
Gothic edifice, is the oldest Catholic church in Providence. The corner- 
stone was laid in 1850 and the completed church consecrated in 1855. 
Some additions and alterations have been made since that time. The 
architect was P. C. Keeley of Brooklyn. Its high, solidly built tower 
stands out boldly against the sky in the vicinity of Fox Point. The chapel 
seats about 1300 people, and is lighted by 16 attractive stained-glass 
windows. Bishop O'Reilly was the founder. 

102. The Tillinghast Burial Ground, 400 Benefit St., is named for Pardon 
Tillinghast, who came to Providence in 1645, built the city's first wharf 
in 1680, became a Baptist pastor and built the first church in 1700, and 
established this as his private burial ground. He died in 1717 and is 
buried here with members of his family. 

Western Part of City 

103. The Burrington Anthony House (private), 138 Atwells Ave., was 
owned by a faithful follower of Thomas Dorr to whom he turned over the 
house as headquarters during the Dorr Rebellion. Cannon commanding 
the city below were placed in front of the house at that time. It is a two- 
story frame Georgian Colonial house built about 1780. 

104. The Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul (Roman Catholic), Weybosset 
St. at western junction with Westminster St., was dedicated in 1889, 
replacing a former structure built in 1878. Built of brownstone, the 
cathedral is cruciform and faces north and south with two high square 
towers at the north entrance. The aisle walls, with buttresses and spired 
corner piers, support a gable roof. There is no clerestory wall; the interior 
consists of a nave and single aisles, but the clerestory has become virtually 
dissolved in the proportioning demanded by the gable roof. The nave is 
five bays in length. The chancel and east and west transepts consist of 
one bay apiece. Many collaborators worked on the edifice. The architect 
was P. C. Keeley, the decorator, Bodes; the excellent stained-glass win- 
dows were executed by Pustato of Imsbruch, the cartoons by Kline, the 
ceiling paintings by Lamprecht, the piers by Theis and Trueg, and the 
statuary by Sibyl and Birk. The piers, ribs, and arches are gilded. 

The small square at this junction is known as Cathedral Square. In the 
center is a statue to Thomas A. Doyle who, with the exception of four 
years, was Mayor of Providence from 1864 to 1886. Doyle Avenue, on the 
east side of the city, was named for him, and the statue was dedicated in 

Providence 291 

1889. On this site, in the i8th century, were scales where farmers weighed 
their hay. 

105. The Dexter Training Ground, bounded by Dexter, Cranston, Parade, 
and Hollywood Sts., covers nine acres and was donated to the town by 
Ebenezer Knight Dexter in 1824. It served as a training ground during 
the Dorr Rebellion, the Civil War, and the Great War. At the north end 
is a statue of the donor, erected in 1893, the gift of the late Henry C. 
Clark. Just to the south of the training grounds is the State Armory, 
built in 1906. 

106. Gasometer, 82 Crary St., is a peculiar round structure with a black 
dome looking like an old derby hat. It is a relic of the gas-holders or gaso- 
meters used by the Providence Gas Company in earlier days. 

107. Hayward Park, bounded by Friendship, Plain, and Maple Sts. and 
Beacon Ave., was in Colonial times divided into two parts, one being used 
as the Proprietors' Burying Ground and the other as a parade and training 
ground. Near-by, where the Point Street School now stands,- were Ro- 
chambeau's headquarters prior to the Yorktown campaign. In 1786 the 
West Burying Ground was established adjacent to that of the Proprietors'. 
The bodies from both burying grounds were removed to Swan Point 
Cemetery subsequent to its establishment in 1847, and by 1876 both 
were vacated. A fountain was erected as a gift of Mayor William S. 
Hayward (1881-83), in whose honor the park was named. 

108. The Site of the Hoyle Tavern is at the junction of Westminster and 
Cranston Sts. On this spot, now occupied by the Citizens' Savings Bank, 
a tavern was built in 1782. It was a favorite stopping place for travelers, 
and it was here that a group of prominent citizens met Lafayette when he 
came to Providence in 1824. The procession of the Dorrites began here 
on the occasion when they marched through the town in the hope of 
taking the arsenal. 


Roger Williams Park can be reached from Broad St., at approximately 
No. 1224, opposite Cass St., or from Elmwood Ave. near the Providence- 
Cranston city line. This park is well known throughout the country for 
its flower gardens and the beauty of its setting. With an area of 453 
acres, 140 of which are occupied by lakes and lagoons, the park is an 
expanse of gently rolling hills and woodland. The flower gardens, aston- 
ishing in their color and variety, are taken care of by a large staff of 
experts, and the lawns and other cultivated grounds are well tended. In 
addition to the floral displays there is an English Garden and a Dutch 

Its recreational facilities include a number of clay tennis courts (10^ per 
hour per person), horseshoe courts, and skiffs for hire (25^ per hour, $1 

292 Main Street and Village Green 

deposit required}. Launch rides (10) are also available. A merry-go- 
round, a toy gasoline automobile track, and pony rides are greatly patron- 
ized by the children. 

Special features of the zoo are an aviary, a deer park, and a monkey 

The park con tains 'two museums: the Betsey Williams Cottage (open), a 
frame gambrel-roofed Georgian Colonial house built in 1773 and last 
occupied by Betsey Williams, a descendant of Roger Williams and donor 
of the original park property. The house is now used as a museum for 
Colonial furniture and items of Rhode Island historical interest. The 
Museum of Natural History (open weekdays 9-5; Sun. 2.30-5.30; free), is 
the only one in the State. Besides the usual zoological and botanical 
exhibits, it contains mineralogical and ethnological material, a note- 
worthy collection being that of Indian relics from many tribes in North 
and South America, as well as from the Narragansetts of Rhode Island. 

The Benedict Memorial (Benedict Monument to Music) is a marble Ionic 
colonnade set in a natural amphitheater. Dedicated in 1924, it forms the 
setting for the Festival of Music held every June by the Providence 
Festival Chorus, the Goldman Band, and assisting artists. 


City: Alt. 0-348; pop. 23,196, sett. 1643, incorporated 1931. 

Bus Lines: Providence to Warwick Neck Station, serving Pawtuxet, Gaspee 
Plateau, Palace Gardens, Spring Green, Hoxsie, Conimicut, Shawomet, River- 
view, Old Warwick, Highland Beach, Bayside, Warwick Neck. Full fare 24ff. 
Providence to Oakland Beach, serving Silver Hook, Dryden Heights, Lakewood, 
Spring Green, Hoxsie, Conimicut, Oakland Beach. Full fare 32^f. Providence to 
East Greenwich, serving Norwood, Lincoln Park, Hillsgrove, Greenwood, 
Apponaug, Cowesett. Full fare 32ff. Providence to Arctic, serving Natick and 
Centerville. Full fare 30?f. Oakland Beach to Arctic. Full fare 20ff. 
Airport: State-owned, cor. US 1 and Occupassatuxet Road, Hillsgrove. Located 
& l /2 m. south of the center of Providence. American Airlines, Inc., transport 
and commercial. Waco Distributors Flying Service, transport and chartered. 
E. W. Wiggins Airways, Inc., transport and chartered. 

Railroads: There are no railway stations in use. The N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R. 
Company's tracks pass through the center of the city, but stops are confined to 
freight service. The nearest passenger stations are in the City of Providence and 
the town of East Greenwich. 

Tourist Accommodations: Complete hotel service is lacking. Numerous tourist 
overnight houses are located on all main highways, and south of Apponaug, on 
US 1, is a group of tourist cabins. 

Warwick 293 

Streets: Duplication of street names throughout the city is common, but is 
being gradually eliminated; the section of the city should always be designated 
on correspondence. 

Beaches: Salt Water: Warwick Downs, Gaspee Point, Rocky Point, Oakland 
Beach, Button woods, Nausauket, Cedar Tree Point and Goddard Memorial 
Park. Fresh Water: Little Pond, Norwood; Gorton Pond, Apponaug; Little 
Pond, Oakland Beach; Warwick Pond, Hoxsie; Arnold Pond, Lakewood. 

WARWICK, although controlled by a city form of government, is com- 
posed of many scattered villages. The term 'city' usually conveys an 
impression of hurrying crowds, active business centers, and crowded liv- 
ing conditions. This is not true of Warwick. There are no large shopping 
or business districts, and the widely spaced homes throughout the city 
present an appearance of quiet suburban life. Previous to 1931, Warwick 
was directed by the town meeting form of government. It was felt, 
however, that the town council, consisting of five members elected at 
large, was not representative of the varied political, geographical, and 
economic interests of the town. With the steady upward trend in popula- 
tion, the amount of administrative matters, too, increased to an extent 
where it could not be handled successfully by the five-member council, 
nor could important questions be properly discussed in a town meeting 
which seven thousand voters were privileged to attend. Warwick was 
incorporated, as Rhode Island's seventh city, on March 13, 1931, and 
the City Charter was accepted by the citizens at the polls April 21, 1931. 
A mayor and nine-member city council were elected November 8, 1932. 

The city of Warwick is bounded on the north by Cranston, on the south 
by East Greenwich and North Kingstown, on the east by Narragansett 
Bay, and on the west by West Warwick. Coventry was set apart as an 
independent township in 1741, while West Warwick became a separate 
body in 1913. The southernmost section of Warwick, or Potowomut, is 
isolated from the rest of the city by the town of East Greenwich and East 
Greenwich Bay. The landscape of the city consists mainly of rolling 
hilly regions and of several valleys, running from north to south. The 
highest point, Rocky Hill in Cowesett, is 348 feet above sea level. The 
soil is suitable for the cultivation of many species of vegetables, plants, 
grains, and fruit trees. Truck gardens, orchards, and dairies are profitable. 

The proximity to Providence accounts for most of the yearly increase in 
Warwick's population. Construction work in 1936 was largely confined 
to the erection of homes for newly arrived inhabitants. Between 1920 
and 1930, Warwick was the fastest growing town in New England. The 
population increased from 13,481 to 23,196 in those years. The present 
estimated population of this, the youngest city in the State, is over 
27,000 with a greater number expected by 1940. 

Native Americans predominate among Warwick residents. The greater 
part are of British ancestry, in numerous cases dating back to the found- 
ing of the country. Racial segregation, while evident in places, is much 
less prominent than in former years due to the city's growth. The village 

294 Main Street and Village Green 

of Natick is an outstanding exception. In that community people of 
Italian origin and parentage are found living in a decidedly Old World 
atmosphere. The Italian language is in general use, while the gardens 
and arbors dotting the landscape are reminiscent of the mother country. 
Economic conditions of the entire nation in the last few years, however, 
have tended to break the community-consciousness of these people, and 
their participation in city affairs is becoming more marked. Only about 
two per cent of the population is Negro. 

Six local mills, the largest ones engaged in dyeing, bleaching, and finish- 
ing, employ the major portion of the city's workers, while farms and small 
businesses provide a small percentage with employment. Many residents 
commute daily to neighboring cities. Some farm produce finds a market 
within the city, but a larger amount is trucked away. Clams, quahaugs, 
little necks, oysters, and scallops are taken from the water in great 
numbers, and local dealers ship shellfish daily to New York and else- 
where. There are several mushroom farms. 

The charm of Warwick, which is a city in law but not one by nature, 
lies in its attractive residential suburbs, opportunities for bayshore re- 
creation, and visits to historic sites. With its entire eastern boundary 
on Narragansett Bay, Warwick has many salt-water beaches. The popu- 
lation is swelled each summer by inland residents who have summer 
homes in the bay communities. Day visitors, too, in great numbers, 
take advantage of the easy access to Warwick's beaches and resorts. 
At low tide scores of people may be seen digging for clams and quahaugs 
for home consumption. Fresh-water ponds also popular for swimming 
are in Lakewood, Norwood, Hoxsie, Oakland Beach, and Apponaug. Ice- 
boating on the ponds is becoming more prominent with each season, 
while the hills of the city make possible excellent tobogganing and skiing. 
Fowl and small game are found in the wooded and sparsely settled 
districts, but not in great amount. 

Samuel Gorton, founder of Warwick, arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, 
from England in March, 1636. A man of rugged individualism and a 
strict believer in legal formalities, Gorton's first few years in this country 
proved troublous. Forsaking Boston after a short time, he established 
residence at Plymouth and later at Pocasset, or Portsmouth, Rhode 
Island. The non-conformist Gorton was expelled from both these settle- 
ments for contempt of the civil authorities. On one occasion in Plymouth 
he was disciplined for daring to defend his maidservant who was censured 
for smiling in church. Journeying to Providence after a brief residence in 
Portsmouth, Samuel Gorton was denied freemanship in Roger Williams' 
town unless he retracted his outspoken opinion in regard to the authority 
of the Colonial Governments. Gorton held that no group of colonists 
could set up or maintain a government without royal sanction, and since 
no settlement in Rhode Island at this time had any such sanction, the 
opinion was a dangerous one. However, Gorton was permitted to stay 
in Providence if he would conduct himself in a peaceful and orderly 
manner. He was constitutionally unable to do this; he gathered a group 

Warwick 295 

of partisans, other men who liked to fight the ruling clique. After a 
street riot in which blood was shed, November 15, 1641, the Gortonists 
fled from Providence to escape reprisals, and sought refuge at Pawtuxet. 
Their arrival caused a flurry of dissent among the inhabitants at Paw- 
tuxet, and four of the previous settlers there applied for admittance to 
the jurisdiction of Massachusetts (see History). 

Seeking to evade the authority both of Massachusetts Bay and of 
Providence, Samuel Gorton and others purchased lands at Shawomet 
from Miantonomi, a sachem of the Narragansetts, on January 12, 1643. 
The price paid was 144 fathoms of wampum, or about $175 in our present 
currency. Gorton and his followers built their first homes in the section of 
the present city still known as Shawomet, to the north of the Warwick 
Neck lighthouse. The small company was destined, however, to be the 
object of continued persecution even in this wilderness. 

Pomham and Sacononoco, subordinate Narragansett sachems, were in- 
duced by some white settlers at Pawtuxet, who were antagonistic toward 
the Shawomet colony, to submit themselves and their lands to the juris- 
diction of Massachusetts. In addition, the two sachems denied having 
assented to the sale of Shawomet to Gorton. The Massachusetts Bay 
Colony summoned the purchasers to appear in Boston to answer the 
charges pressed against them. Gorton and his band refused to comply 
and heated letters were exchanged by the two parties, which further 
heightened ill feeling. The opposition in Massachusetts toward the re- 
ligious views of the Gortonites was also a factor in the controversy. The 
religious views of Gorton defy description; it may only be said that he was 
a strong individualist, opposed to any form of churchly restraint. Samuel 
Gorton revealed what he thought of the Massachusetts Church when he 
wrote, 'The scope of their doctrines was bent only to maintain that 
outward form of worship which they had erected to themselves, leaving 
those principles of divinity wherein we had been instructed in our 
native country, tending to faith toward God in Christ/ 

Since several demands for the Shawomet leaders to appear in Boston 
met with absolute refusal, Massachusetts became exasperated and dis- 
patched three commissioners and forty men in September, 1643, to com- 
pel compliance by armed force. A short, bloodless siege followed, and 
upon the capitulation of Shawomet, Gorton and six other purchasers 
were taken, in October, 1643, as prisoners to Boston. Confiscating live- 
stock, and scattering the remaining inhabitants to various points of refuge, 
the victorious party left behind a scene of desolation. 

In Boston, Gorton and the other purchasers were immediately arraigned 
before a tribunal. The inconsistency of the whole affair became apparent 
by the trial proceedings. No one appeared to protest of injury or wrong 
committed by the defendants, the charges of blasphemous opinions and 
utterances being preferred by the ministers and magistrates. Samuel 
Gorton denied the construction placed upon his writings, and four 
theological questions were propounded by the court to which he returned 
written replies. Blasphemy was punishable by death, and all but three 

296 Main Street and Village Green 

of the magistrates condemned Gorton to die. The Elders were in full 
accord with this verdict, but the deputies, by a majority of two, refused 
the death penalty. The men on trial suffered imprisonment until the 
next spring, and upon their release were banished from Massachusetts 
with the threat of death if they should return. Back again in Rhode 
Island the Shawomet purchasers found a temporary haven of safety on 
the island of Aquidneck where they remained until 1644. 

In the latter year, Samuel Gorton and Randall Holden went to England, 
as emissaries from the harassed occupants of the Shawomet lands, to 
gain protection from Massachusetts. The two colonists were befriended 
by Robert, Earl of Warwick, chief member of the Parliamentary Com- 
mittee of Foreign Plantations during the Commonwealth period in Eng- 
land, who was instrumental in obtaining the guaranty of protection they 
sought. The town fathers subsequently bestowed the name Warwick 
upon the Colony in appreciation of this kindness. Thus shielded by the 
Mother Country, the settlers reopened their homes in Shawomet and 
started anew the developments they had been forced to abandon. 

The first meeting of the Rhode Island General Assembly was held in 
Portsmouth in May, 1647, to organize a government under the Com- 
monwealth charter. The charter mentioned only Providence, Portsmouth, 
and Newport, but the delegates from those towns agreed that Warwick 
should have the same privileges as Providence. 

In 1647, the first local town officers of Warwick were selected. Town 
meetings were held in taverns, or in the private homes of the various 
officials. The date of the first town house is uncertain, but it is believed 
that one was not erected until 1676. In contrast to the enthusiasm of 
present-day political campaigns, we learn that the town fathers were 
sometimes forced to hold the threat of a fine over the heads of many 
prospective incumbents to insure their induction into office. 

King Philip's War, 1675-76, caused an abrupt pause in the growth of 
Warwick. Beset by danger on all sides, most of the settlers evacuated 
the township and once again found safety on the island of Aquidneck. 
During this period of exile every home in the town was destroyed, with 
the exception of one built of heavy stone. The end of the war saw the 
townsmen returning again to rebuild on the sites of ruined homesteads. 
One real benefit accruing from the hostilities was the knowledge that the 
defeated Indians were beyond the power to endanger them further. 

The years that followed the close of King Philip's War found a new 
zest applied to commercial enterprises in the Colony. The added sense 
of security from the Indians induced many families to settle farther west 
in the township. Soon gristmills, fulling mills, and other establishments 
were operating on the banks of the Pawtuxet River. The first mill had 
been erected at Old Mill Cove, Conimicut, as early as 1651. This was 
followed by one at Tuscatucket, 1677, and a sawmill and gristmill at 
Centerville, in 1677. The fulling mill constructed at Apponaug in 1696 
gave the name Fulling Mill to that hamlet for a period of time. 

Warwick 297 

Gorton, Holden, John Warner, and most of the other leaders in the 
early years had had some formal education. But hardships and privations 
delayed the local development of public education. Prior to 1716, school- 
ing was considered a private concern. In that year a Proprietors' School 
was established in the Old Warwick section of the township. The struc- 
ture served also as a meeting-place for public gatherings. At the close of 
the eighteenth century, local interest had increased so that school com- 
mittees were organized, and the town was divided into districts. State 
and town appropriated annual sums for the maintenance of the schools. 
The Reverend Zalmon Toby of Apponaug was appointed, in 1845, to 
serve as the first superintendent of schools, receiving a yearly stipend 
of fifty dollars. As the town grew during the nineteenth century, more 
schools were erected. 

The Revolutionary War did not affect Warwick as directly as it did 
many other New England towns, but it brought military fame to several 
inhabitants. The Kentish Guards sent to the war General Nathanael 
Greene, second in command of the Continental forces serving under 
Washington; Colonel Christopher Greene, an able militarist who was 
captured and killed by his enemies in a night attack while in command 
of troops on the Croton River in 1781; and Colonel Christopher Lippitt, 
in command of a Rhode Island regiment. 

With the rise of the textile industry in Rhode Island, Warwick became 
active along that line. The value of the Pawtuxet River as a source of 
water-power, flowing as it does through many miles of the township, is 
plainly evident. The first mill to manufacture cotton goods by machinery 
in W T arwick was founded by Job Greene in Centerville, in 1794. This was 
four years after Samuel Slater had started the first mill in Pawtucket. 
The advent of textile manufacturing brought a rapid increase in the 
population," as people moved in from rural areas, and mill villages soon 
were scattered over western Warwick. There were textile mills in 
Anthony and Hope by 1806, in Natick and Crompton by 1807, in Lippitt 
and Phenix by 1810, at Riverpoint in 1813, and at Arctic in 1834. Many 
more plants were established later. The B. B. & R. Knight Corporation 
secured large mill holdings in the western part of the township after 
1870, later disposing of them to various concerns. The Pontiac Finishing 
Plant, located in Warwick, was the only mill running in the formerly 
huge chain of Knight mills in this section in 1936. Many of these mills 
are now in the towns of West Warwick and Coventry, originally part 
of Warwick. (For points of interest in WARWICK see Tour 1.) 


Town: Alt. 15, township pop. 10,997, sett. 1648, incorp. 1669. 
Railroad Station: N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R., Railroad Ave. 

Accommodations: Five hotels situated within the limits; many hotels and cabins 
at or near the various beaches in the township. 

Theater: The Westerly Players, in old Lyric Theatre, occasional performances. 

Fishing: Watch Hill to Quonochontaug. Clams and quahaugs in Little Narra- 
gansett Bay. Lobsters. 

Swimming: Watch Hill, Misquamicut, Weekapaug and Quonochontaug. 

Annual Events: Carnivals sponsored by the Society of Elks at Dixon St. and the 
Fireman's Organization at Main St., during the later summer months. 

WESTERLY, its name derived from its westerly position in the State, 
is a town with no great pretensions to wealth, and only a few traces of its 
historic heritage. These examples of early architectural trends are found 
principally among the outlying farms, though a few old homes remain, 
tucked between modern structures along the elm-shaded streets. De- 
scendants of many of the families whose names are found in the records 
previous to 1700 still live in Westerly. 

Today Westerly appears as a typical New England town; its atmosphere 
of culture is blended with the successful air of a progressive industrial 
center. The town produces woolens, elastic webbing, silk, novelty cur- 
tains, and granite. Wilcox Park, in the center of the town, is a spacious 
green flanked on one side by public buildings of granite, and on the 
other side by residences. The near-by summer resorts give a festive and 
holiday spirit to the village streets. 

The mills are clustered around the falls of the Pawcatuck River, the 
western limit of the town and the State boundary separating Westerly 
from the neighboring village of Pawcatuck in Stonington Township, 
Connecticut. Other mills are in separate villages, such as Bradford to 
the east. The resort beaches are strung along the south shore, on Long 
Island Sound, where large estates are interspersed with colonies of small 

The township, which includes at least nine villages in addition to Westerly 
itself, covers about thirty-six square miles. The surface of the township 
is rough and considerably broken, especially in the northeast and the 
southeast. A considerable part of the soil is Glocester stony loam. The 
sandy beaches of the coast alternate with sections of large rocks and 
outlying reefs that have caused many shipwrecks. The land on both sides 
of the Pawcatuck River near the ford (see below) was formerly known as 
Pawcatuck Bridge. The two settlements, Westerly and Pawcatuck, 

Westerly 299 

although lying in different States, are served by the same post office, 
railroad depot, express companies, public utilities, and wharves. 

The Indian name for the area extending approximately four miles to 
either side of the lower Pawcatuck River was Misquamicut, ' a place for 
catching salmon.' Prior to the arrival of the whites it was disputed 
ground, claimed by the Niantics, Pequots, and Narragansetts, and per- 
manently occupied by none of them, although they left their traces in 
present-day place names: Mastuxet, Misquamicut, Pawcatuck, Powaget, 
Shannock, Watchaug, Yawgoog, and the like. 

When the English settlers came, the Niantics were in power under Nini- 
gret, a sachem of considerable military reputation, craft, and pride. 
In 1664-65 he turned back several attacks of rival Indian tribes and one 
invasion by white troops from Connecticut. 

The first Europeans to visit the shores of Westerly were probably Dutch 
traders who came to exchange cloth and metal instruments for furs. 
Captain Adriaen Block (for whom Block Island, off Point Judith, is 
named) explored the coast in the 'Onrust' in 1614, and recorded his 
observations in a journal, in which the present Pawcatuck is called the 
East River, which empties out past 'a crooked point, in the shape of a 
sickle.' The early Dutch explorers, who made no permanent settlement, 
evidently ascended the river as far as Pawcatuck Rock, opposite the 
present Westerly Yacht Club. The first record of Englishmen on Westerly 
soil relates to Captain John Mason of Connecticut, who camped the night 
of May 24, 1637, on Fort Neck, in what is now Charlestown, then next 
day led his company of white soldiers and Indian allies through what is 
Westerly enroute to attack the stronghold of the Pequot Indians. 

The first permanent settlers were probably John and Mary Babcock 
(1648). John Babcock was a Plymouth man who moved to Newport 
where he worked for a Thomas Lawton. John fell in love with his em- 
ployer's daughter Mary; after several ' delightful trysts . . . about Aquid- 
neck's ancient trees,' they eloped from Newport in a small open boat. 
They built their home near Mastuxet Brook (see Tour 1A). 

John Babcock and one or two others attempted unsuccessfully to pur- 
chase land from the Indians in Misquamicut in 1658. Two years later a 
private company was formed in Newport for the purchase of the Mis- 
quamicut tract, as the Westerly region was then called. June 29, 1660, 
this group secured a deed from a renegade Pequot named Sosoa, who 
claimed title to the tract from Miantonomi (then deceased) and Ninigret. 
The claim was disputed. Massachusetts claimed jurisdiction by right of 
conquest, because of the aid given Connecticut in the Pequot War. 
After Stonington, Connecticut, was settled the people of that town also 
claimed some Rhode Island territory on the east side of the Pawcatuck. 
Under a Connecticut grant, in fact, a Thomas Stan ton had built, in 1649, 
a trading post within the present Westerly. To clear up part of these 
difficulties, the Newport company secured, June 25, 1661, a confirma- 
tion of Sosoa's deed from Wawaloam, the widow of Miantonomi; and 

3OO Main Street and Village Green 

August 27, the Newport speculators, including John Coggeshall, John 
Crandall, William Vaughan, and Hugh Mosher, petitioned the Rhode 
Island Assembly to help them take possession of their claim. The com- 
pany, of eighty-six members, had previously subscribed (March 21, 1661) 
to 'Articles of Agreement' under which, with amendments, subsequent 
individual land grants were made. Shares were sold to residents of 
Newport, Providence, and Warwick. 

The first newcomers to Westerly entered upon their land about the first 
of September, 1661. Almost immediately they became involved in the 
Rhode Island-Connecticut boundary dispute (see Boundaries). In 1663, 
Westerly men tore down a house held by a Connecticut man on the east 
side of the Pawcatuck, and in 1671, Connecticut authorities arrested and 
took off to a Hartford jail John Crandall and several others. Arrests, 
fines, imprisonments, and disorders continued until the boundary line 
was settled in 1728. 

Shortly after Westerly was incorporated (1669), as the fifth 'town in the 
Colony, with only about thirty families and twenty-four freemen (legal 
voters), the threat of King Philip's War drove many to Newport. Through 
the partially abandoned town (it had no representation in the General 
Assembly for five years) marched the Colonial troops, among them Major 
Robert Treat's company, on the way to attack the Narragansetts at 
North Kingstown (see Tour 3). From 1686 to 1689, when Rhode Island 
was a part of the Dominion of New England, the name of the town was 
Haversham. The sites of the present towns of Richmond, Charlestown, 
and Hopkinton were originally part of the township, so that Old Westerly 
had an area of 153 square miles. 

For many years after the founding of the maritime and agricultural com- 
munity of Westerly, life was very simple. An extract from the journal 
kept by the Colonial traveler, Madam Knight, on a journey from Boston 
to New York in 1704, describes Westerly in an unfavorable light. The 
house at which she stopped near the old ford was * enclosed with clap- 
boards laid on lengthwise, and so much asunder that the light came 
through everywhere; the doore tyed on with a cord in ye place of hinges; 
the floor the bear earth; no windows but such as the thin covering af- 
forded; nor any furniture but a bed, with a glass bottle hanging at ye 
head on't; an earthern cup; a small pewter basin; a box with sticks to 
stand on instead of a table; and a block or two in ye corner instead of 
chairs. The family were the old man, his wife, and two children; all 
and every part being the picture of poverty. Notwithstanding, both the 

hutt and its inhabitants were very clean and tydee An Indian like 

animal came to the door on a creature very much like himselfe in mien 
and feature, as well as ragged cloa thing.' 

A road, known later as Queen Anne's Road, was begun in 1667 to connect 
New London, Connecticut, with the Pawcatuck River. This highway 
was extended eastward about 1703 through the Narragansett country 
to the shore of Narragansett Bay, whence access to Newport was gained 
by boat. Cattle and horses, so important to the early settlers, were im- 

Westerly 301 

ported from abroad at great expense and trouble. Sheep-raising in the 
early community was impractical because packs of wolves ranged the 
countryside. Bounties were paid by the Colony for wildcats, foxes, 
blackbirds, wolves, and other destructive wild life. 

The first bridge across the Pawcatuck at the old ford on the Indian trail 
was built about 1712 by private subscription. Distant travel was slight. 
The New England mail route was established about this time, bringing 
Westerly into closer contact with its Colonial neighbors. The mail was 
carried on horseback. In 1735, a second bridge was built to replace the 
first, its cost shared by Connecticut and Rhode Island (see Foot Tour 2, 
item 10). 

In 1740-41 occurred the 'hard winter.' Dr. MacSparran, the Episcopal 
minister in Narragansett, stated that the cold was so intense during this 
winter that 'a man drove a horse and sleigh on the ice from Hurlgate, 
near New York, to Cape Cod.' It is certain that persons 'passed and 
repassed from Providence to Newport on the ice, and from the main shore 
of Connecticut to Montauk Point.' There were more than thirty snow- 
storms, besides small flurries. On the loth of March the snow was three 
feet deep; in the middle of April it was still lying in drifts by the fences. 
The intense cold caused a great loss of cattle and sheep and was especially 
destructive to game. 

Perhaps the first Rhode Island shipwright on the Pawcatuck River was 
Joseph Wells, who built in 1681 the 'Alexander and Martha,' a forty-foot 
vessel for which he received an eighth share in ownership, and 165, 
partly paid in goods. From eighteenth-century docks along the river 
front, schooners and sloops made regular trips to New York and Provi- 
dence. Local merchants took passage on these packet ships, and lived 
aboard while doing their business in the distant city. The river in those 
days was shallow and vessels were poled down the stream against head 
winds. In season great pyramids of scup or porgies were landed. These 
sold at one cent apiece as long as fit, but most of the pile passed on for 
fertilizer. Eelgrass was brought in later for bedding for the oxen used at 
the near-by stone quarries. 

Shipbuilding continued well into the nineteenth century; many fishing 
vessels were outfitted for the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts until 
as late as 1836. In the i84o's several whaling vessels were also built in 
the yards along Margin Street (see Foot Tour 2, item 15). In the active 
days of the shipyards, Margin Street was only a cart path lined with 
buttonwood trees. 

The military history of Westerly began in 1710, when the town sent 
twenty men, four of them Indians, to assist in the capture of Port Royal, 
Nova Scotia. A few Westerly men took part in the earlier King Philip's 
War, but the town was not subject to direct attack by the Indians. In 
April, 1745, troops from this part of the Rhode Island coast left New 
London for Louisburg, Cape Breton Island. During the period of King 
George's War, Westerly had four companies of militia under the command 

302 Main Street and Village Green 

of Captain J. Wells, Jr., Lieutenant Matthew Greene, and Ensign Ed- 
ward Robinson. 

According to tradition, one 'Nanny Sims,' whose husband was fighting 
with the English in the French and Indian War (1754-63), single- 
handed fought off three savages who attacked her house; one started to 
climb through a window, and two to climb down the chimney. Nanny 
threw her straw bed in the fireplace, smoking out the two redmen in the 
chimney, and then chopped off the head of the third with an axe. 

Before the Revolution the poorer class of European immigrants secured 
passage to this country through indenture, whereby they were bound to 
service for a term of years after their arrival. One of these ' redemptioners ' 
worked for a farmer in Westerly. After a season of willing service the 
laborer intimated that he should like to continue the arrangement per- 
manently. He seemed depressed by the idea that on the expiration of 
his contract he would be obliged to toil for himself. Papers for life service 
were hence made out. On taking the pen to sign the instrument, the 
redemptioner hesitated, saying that he did not understand how the obli- 
gations of the old and new papers harmonized, since they overlapped in 
time. Explanations were in vain, so the two agreed to destroy the old 
paper. When the redemptioner raised his pen to sign the new paper, he 
again hesitated. The employer inquired the reason, since the laborer 
himself had proposed the life service. The latter replied : ' I was thinking 
of some advice that my father once gave me. He gave me good counsel, 
and I only wish I had followed it more closely. He once said to me, "My 
son, never sign your name to a paper of any kind." As I have signed one 
paper, but have just got rid of it, I think I shall not sign another. So, sir, 
I kindly bid you a good-bye.' The redemptioner walked away a free 
man, much to the chagrin of his erstwhile employer. 

Westerly people sympathized generally with the Colonial side of the 
controversy that led to the war with Great Britain. In September, 1776, 
fifty men were enlisted to serve with the Revolutionary forces. Three 
companies of militia were furnished early in the war, beside recruits for 
the coast guard and the artillery; in 1781, four companies of militia were 
enrolled. In 1777, a party set out in three large boats, and in rounding 
Point Judith two of the boats were swamped and eight men were drowned. 
Throughout the Revolution the coast in this vicinity was much subjected 
to marauding expeditions by the British, so that a careful coast guard had 
to be maintained. It was at this time the French and Indian War signal 
stationed on Watch Hill was re-established as a lookout for British priva- 

The War of 1812 gave Westerly people a real scare when in August of 
1814 a British fleet bombarded the near-by town of Stonington, Con- 
necticut. A full regiment of Rhode Island militia was stationed near 
Watch Hill. Shortly before the war broke out, a special artillery com- 
pany was formed in Westerly, and placed in command of Captain Joshua 
Hazard. The company kept a brass field piece ready for use on lower Main 

Westerly 303 

After the War of 1812 there were no calls for active military service until 
the Dorr Rebellion of 1842 (see History). To cope with this uprising 
Washington County sent noo men under command of General John B. 
Stedman of Westerly. During the period of the uprising, Westerly was 
under martial law. There was no bloodshed, but it is reported that Gen- 
eral Stedman issued the following order: 'Boys, when you see the enemy, 
fire and then run, and as I am a little lame, I will run now.' 

In May, 1806, the Federal Government purchased a tract of land at 
Watch Hill for a lighthouse; the first keeper served twenty-seven years. 
A major disaster off this point occurred in 1872 when the steamer 'Metis,' 
bound from New York to Providence, collided with the schooner ' Nettie 
Gushing ' and sank within three-quarters of an hour. A government life- 
boat, which had been at the lighthouse for twenty-three years but never 
used, was manned by Westerly men who saved thirty-three persons of 
the hundred or so on board. The lack of adequate life-saving equipment 
near Westerly caused the Government to erect, in 1879, a life-saving 
station at Watch Hill. 

At some time in the late eighteenth century, a section of the village of 
Westerly along Main Street, between Beach and School Streets, became 
known as Bungtown. The name seems to have come directly from the 
prevailing liquor business. Gin, rum, and molasses were the stock in 
trade along the waterfront, and there were many bungs in the cellars of 
the buildings here. 

On the west side of Main Street by the upper Wells Brook, Abial Sherman 
built a tannery; on the east side by the lower Cross Brook was the Cross 
tanyard, destroyed by fire in 1851. These tanyards not only used native 
hides, but also ground the native bark used in tanning them, and at times 
when the mud was too deep on Main Street, tanbark served for side- 
walks. Westerly's first newspaper, though not a printed one, was the 
'Bungtown Patriot,' a single hand-written sheet brought out March i, 
1825, by Charles Perry. A copy of this paper is in the possession of the 
Westerly Library. 

The industrial history of Westerly dates from the nineteenth century. 
Little mill manufacture was carried on prior to 1800, although the early 
settlers had used some water-power in the Pawcatuck River before 1750. 
In 1814, the Pawcatuck Manufacturing Company established on Main 
Street the Old Stone Mill, razed in 1935. At first woolens were manu- 
factured here, and then cotton goods. In 1814, also, a cloth-shearing 
machine was invented by Deacon William Stillman and used in his mill 
at Stillmanville. A canal was dug from Westerly to Stillmanville in 1827. 
Blodgett, Stafford and Simmons succeeded the Pawcatuck Manufactur- 
ing Company and later purchased other water privileges at Stillmanville 
and White Rock. 

In 1806, Joseph Barton Stillman, silversmith, began business in Westerly, 
and this concern, after several changes in ownership, is conducted by 
William H. Goodgeon. 

304 Main Street and Village Green 

Westerly's main industry is the granite business. The granite resources 
of the township were discovered in 1846 by Orlando Smith, who founded 
in the following year the first quarry company. Since that time several 
other granite companies have been organized in various places throughout 
the township. Westerly granite is fine-grained, susceptible to delicate 
carving, and hence particularly suitable for memorial purposes. The 
local quarries yield four varieties of stone : a red variety commonly used 
for building blocks, and white, blue, and pink granite usually employed 
for monuments. Since the middle of the nineteenth century the Westerly 
granite quarries have held a position of national repute. 

Westerly's first printed newspaper, the Literary Echo, was published in 
1851; it became the Westerly Echo and Pawcatuck Advertiser in 1856, and 
the Narragansett Weekly in 1858, when the paper was acquired by the 
Utter family. The Sabbath Recorder, owned and published by George 
B. Utter and previously published in New York, was issued from this 
establishment 1861-72. The Westerly Daily Sun was established as a 
daily in 1893 by George B. Utter. Because there are many Seventh Day 
Baptists in Westerly, to whom Saturday is the Sabbath, the Sun has no 
Saturday edition, but a Sunday evening number instead. 

The first call to arms in Westerly in the Civil War was made on April 
1 6, 1 86 1. The Westerly Rifles, consisting of 107 men and officers, marched 
immediately thereafter with the First Rhode Island Regiment. Westerly 
lost about 62 men in the war. When the Spanish- American W r ar broke 
out in 1898, Westerly again sent a company of men. When the United 
States entered the World War in April, 1917, Westerly sent at once a 
company of 109 men who, after two weeks' extensive training, went on 
guard duty in this country. Subsequent enlistments, or enrollments 
under the draft acts, swelled this total. From April, 1917, to May, 1918, 
a special organization was established to preserve the public peace in the 
absence of the National Guard. 

The population of Westerly consists largely of people who are American- 
born and of English ancestry. The following countries have contributed 
to the town's foreign-born population: Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland, 
France, Germany, and Poland. The Italians predominate and are inclined 
to group together in districts, some in the northern section and others in 
the northeastern, and here the native tongue is frequently spoken, al- 
though today a large percentage speak English as well as Italian. At one 
time these Italians were confined entirely to the northern part of the 
town, but of late years, due to intermarriage and other reasons, they have 
become scattered throughout the township. 

Westerly has about eighteen churches, several of which were founded 
very early. The first organized parish in Old Westerly was that of the 
Sabbatarians, that came into being about 1671. The first Sabbatarian 
meeting-house was built about 1680, and its regular minister was John 
Maxson, ordained Elder in 1708. He was succeeded by his son, who died 
in 1747. A Presbyterian minister, Joseph Park, was sent to Westerly in 
1733 by the New England Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. 

Westerly 305 

He was given a twenty-acre lot by the Indian chief, George Ninigret. 
The evangelist, George Whiteneld, visited Westerly in the i74o's, and 
it is said that Park's church benefited particularly from the subsequent 
revival movement. There was a Quaker meeting-house in Westerly in 
1744, and an Episcopal church by 1746. 

FOOT TOUR 1 1.1 m. 

1. The United States Post Office (1914), cor. Broad and High Sts., is out- 
standing among the few large buildings in Westerly; its most striking 
feature is the curved white marble facade which follows the line of the lot. 
The building, designed by James Knox Taylor, is so placed upon an ir- 
regular piece of land that it can be seen from nearly any angle. The 
circular facade with wide pavilions at either end, is adorned with a central 
colonnade of fluted Doric columns. The main cornice is ornamented 
with lions' heads, and the roof, of green dull-glazed tile, is designed in 
Greek face pattern. The side walls of the building are relieved by pilasters 
and windows. The lobby has a terrazzo and marble floor with cream 
marble wainscoting. Much of the interior detail is set off by bronze or 
cast-iron ornamentation. 

E. from High St. on Broad St. 

2. Westerly Memorial Building and Library (open weekdays 9-9, Sun. 2-6), 
Broad St., was erected in 1894 as a memorial to the veterans of the Civil 
War; it serves both as a library and social center. The main section of 
the buff brick and red granite structure is two stories high with a tower 
and red tile roof trimmed with terra-cotta. The Broad Street entrance 
has massive oak doors beneath a stone arch. A recent addition to the 
east end of the original building, a children's library, is known as the 
William D. Hoxie Memorial. It is a yellow brick structure with red 
granite trim and red tile roof, similar in line to the older structure. The 
people of Westerly subscribed $25,000 to the original building fund and 
larger amounts were donated by the late Stephen Wilcox and his widow, 
Harriet Wilcox. Mrs. Wilcox (d. 1901) made provision in her will for the 
perpetual support of the library, which contains at present more than 
53,000 volumes, including many important works on local history. The 
building also houses an assembly hall, art gallery, gymnasium, special 
children's library, and a museum. In the museum is a good mineral col- 
lection. The Art Gallery (open weekdays 9-5), opened in 1902, usually has 
on display about twenty-five paintings and several pieces of statuary. 
Among the latter are busts of William McKinley and Harriet Beecher 
Stowe by Edward Pausch, who maintained a studio in Westerly for fifteen 
years. There is also a bronze bust of Stephen Wilcox by John Quincy 
Adams Ward. 

3. Union Street, opposite the Library, was formerly called Cooky Hill, 
though the reason is uncertain. According to one tale a Captain Lan- 

306 Main Street and Village Green 

phear, who was engaged in fishing about 1838, named the spot because 
of its similarity to another Cooky Hill near New York where he used to 
land to clean fish. On this short street, or Cooky Hill, were formerly three 
school buildings and a meeting-house. The old Red Schoolhouse, now at 
ii Union St., is used as a dwelling. Pawcatuck Academy was razed in 
1892, and the third school, Union Academy, has been moved, as a dwelling- 
house, to 27 Granite St. The Union Meeting-House (1822), which stood 
on the site of the present Old Town Hall, was what its name implies, a 
house for church meetings regardless of creed. From its steeple in 1823 
was rung the first bell used to call the people of Westerly to worship; the 
old bell now stands on the grounds of Christ Church. On the site of the 
Union Church the present Old Town Hall was erected (1874) (open 
weekdays 8.3CM.30; Sat. 8.30-12). It is a two-story brick building with 
a tower. After the erection of the New Town Hall, in 1912, this building 
was used as a manual training school, until the Junior High School was 
completed in 1931. Since then it has been headquarters of the Director 
of Public Aid, State Unemployment Relief, and the local chapter of the 
American Red Cross. Union Street has been graded so that the old build- 
ings stand high in the air. 

4. Westerly Town Hall and Courthouse (open weekdays 9-4, Sat. 9-12), 
cor. Union and Broad Sts., is a two-story granite structure designed by 
William R. Walker and Son of Providence. It is stately in appearance 
with a pedimented Ionic entrance portico. On the first floor are suites, 
finished in quartered oak, for the town officers, and on the second floor is 
a large assembly hall. The south end of the building, owned by the State, 
is occupied by the Third District Court, and the Superior Court for 
Washington County. 

5. Wilcox Park, opposite the Town Hall on Broad St., in the center of 
Westerly, is the gift of Harriet Hoxie Wilcox. It is laid out in a natural 
informal plan. Among the many species of trees represented are the 
Scotch elm, umbrella, Nordman fir, black walnut, buttonwood, gum, 
ginkgo, and basswood. The spacious lawns of velvety green, and various 
kinds of shrubbery, artistically arranged, make this park a restful re- 
treat. There is also a small pond where children sail boats, or skate in 
season. Near the Broad St. entrance is an illuminated Fountain erected 
recently to the memory of Stephen and Harriet Wilcox, benefactors of 
the town. The park, though controlled by a private corporation, is 
liberally endowed for public use. 

6. Christ Church (open), cor. of Broad and Elm Sts. The society of this 
Episcopal church was organized by Westerly people in 1833-34. Two 
years later the society erected its first church building, on the first site 
of the old Red School; this church burned in 1872, and only the organ, the 
first in Westerly, was saved. In the fall of the same year a temporary 
frame church was built. In 1891, the Rev. E. W. Babcock gave the parish 
the lot on which the church now stands. The present granite structure, 
erected in 1894, is designed in a modified English Gothic style. On the 
east side of the building is a tower and spire, erected in 1905, containing 

Westerly 307 

chimes. The church is ivy-covered. To the rear, standing on the ground, 
is the first church bell used in Westerly. 
E.from Elm St. on Granite St. to Highland Ave. 

7. Westerly Junior High School (1931), Highland Ave., is a two-story 
building of red brick with gray granite trim, designed in the Georgian 
style. The cornice and front pediment are of wood painted to match the 
granite trim. The auditorium seats 725; an athletic field to the rear is 
used for a public playground during the summer. 

8. The Smith Granite Quarry (open), 116 Granite St., was established in 
1847, the oldest in Westerly. A marker near the quarry reads 'Near this 
spot in 1846 ORLANDO SMITH Stone mason from the neighboring 
State of Connecticut, searching for Stone of Superior Quality, discovered 
the hidden Deposit of WESTERLY GRANITE and founded here a 
Granite Industry.' In the office are pictures showing the history of the 
granite industry from the time oxen were used to draw away the stone, 
cut out by hand drills, down to the modern times when trucks do the 
hauling and boom derricks and compressed air drills do the hoisting and 
drilling. Gilman air drills cut away the first large blocks. The pieces to 
be worked are taken to a finishing shed, where they are polished and in- 
scribed. The Rhode Island block in the National Monument at Washing- 
ton was taken from this quarry, as was the stone for the Roger Williams 
Monument in Roger Williams Park, Providence. Perhaps the most 
famous work done here was the * Antietam Soldier ' for the battlefield of 
Antietam. It was cut from a single block that weighed 60 tons. 

9. The Joshua Babcock House (private), 124 Granite St., was built about 
1750. It is a fine two-story, white frame, gambrel-roof structure with a 
central stone chimney. The heavy well-proportioned door is flanked by 
hand-carved pilasters, and is surmounted by a broken-scroll pediment. 
In the interior a fine stair rail is designed with twisted balusters. The 
parlor, with its corner cupboard, has wooden shutters and paneled walls. 
The original kitchen, now a living-room, contains a huge fireplace and 
oven with appropriate fittings for open-fire cooking. Wide plank floors 
and corner posts in many of the rooms reflect the sturdy construction of 
the frame. Dr. Babcock (1707-83), a physician and town leader, was also 
Chief Justice of Rhode Island (1749-51, 1763-64), a major general in the 
Revolution, and a Baptist member of the first board of trustees (1764) 
of Rhode Island College. Benjamin Franklin was a frequent visitor here, 
and he is said to have put lightning rods on the house. In the ell off the 
main house was the first post office for Westerly (1776). For several years 
after 1848 the house was occupied by Otlando Smith, founder of the 
granite quarry; it is still owned by one of his descendants. 

308 Main Street and Village Green 

FOOT TOUR 2 0.7 m. 

South from Broad St. on Main St. 

10. Pawcatuck Bridge, over the Pawcatuck River, was built jointly by 
Rhode Island and Connecticut in 1932. The span is a 'T beam' slab type 
of reinforced concrete, 115 feet long, which rests on two concrete piers 
rising about 10 feet above high water. At both ends of the bridge, on the 
south side, are small parks, beautifully landscaped with shrubbery, main- 
tained by the separate States. An old Indian Ford over the Pawcatuck 
River south of this bridge was used until 1712, when the first bridge was 
built across the river. A second bridge was erected in 1 734, Rhode Island 
building the east and Connecticut the west half. Across this ford, and 
over the bridges which succeeded it, passed the east and west traffic be- 
tween New London and Providence. The Boston Post Road from New 
York to Eastport, Maine, which in many places followed Indian trails, 
was laid through Westerly in 1727, and through the town still passes the 
great bulk of the east and west coastal traffic in southern New England. 

11. Washington Trust Company Building, cor. of Main and Broad Sts., 
is an attractive four-story structure of Indiana limestone with Westerly 
granite trim, designed in the modified Italian Renaissance style. The 
high rusticated first story is pierced by three large arched windows. The 
facade is adorned with Ionic pilasters, a simple dentiled cornice, orna- 
mental balustrades, and is crowned by an overhanging tile roof. This 
building, designed by York and Sawyer of New York, was opened in 1925. 
The Washington Trust Company, the oldest bank in Westerly and the 
third oldest in Rhode Island, dates from August 22, 1800, when the 
Washington Bank first opened its doors for business. In 1836 a new 
building of Greek Revival design was erected for this bank, the first large 
building in Westerly to be made of local granite. The Westerly Savings 
Bank, organized in 1854, shared quarters with the Washington Bank, 
which became the Washington National Bank in 1865; the two united in 
1904 to form the Washington Trust Company. 

12. Pawcatuck Seventh Day Baptist Church (open on application at 118 
Main St.), 120 Main St., is a white frame structure, rectangular in plan, 
with a gable roof and tall front steeple. The main floor is raised on a high 
basement story. The entrance portal, protected by a pedimented Doric 
portico, is approached by a twin flight of steps. A minor central entrance 
at the ground level leads to the basement. The design of the church is 
distinctly of the southern type. 

In 1840, the Westerly Sabbatarians who had attended the Hopkinton 
Seventh Day Baptist Church formed the Pawcatuck Seventh Day Bap- 
tist parish. At that time Westerly with a population of 1912 had two 
churches Baptist and Episcopal. The Seventh Day Society at first 
held meetings in the Union Mee ting-House; eight years later the parish 

Westerly 309 

built the present church. The Bible which was used at the dedication of 
the church is still in service. 

13. The Lucy Carpenter House (private), or the Hickox House, 196 Main 
St., was standing in 1730; the date of its erection is uncertain. The house 
has been remodeled but it retains most of its original features. It is a 
one-and-a-half-story white frame structure with a gambrel roof, central 
brick chimney, dormer windows, and a small ell in the rear. The great oak 
beams and corner posts are put together with wooden pegs and hand-made 
nails. The corner posts are of the ' gun-stock ' variety, larger at the top 
than at the base. The house is named for Lucy Carpenter who lived here 
for 68 years in the igth century. She is remembered as being a very 
keen and able woman and her opinions were much respected by the promi- 
nent citizens of the town. 

Continue S. from Main St. on Margin St. 

14. The Captain Card House (private), 12 Margin St., is a one-story white 
frame building facing the Pawcatuck River (about 1750). It has two ells, 
one on the south side and one at the rear, a gable roof, small-paned win- 
dows, a central and an end stone chimney. Local tradition attributes the 
building of this house to John Lewis, one of the original settlers in Wes- 
terly. The house has been known as the Card House for Captain William 
H. Card, who bought it from Maria Gavitt in 1868. Captain Card owned 
a small merchant vessel that sailed between Westerly and Block Island. 
In 1929-30 the owner had the house thoroughly restored under the 
direction of Norman M. Isham, the State's eminent authority on Colonial 

15. Site of Old Shipyard, Margin St., near the Captain Card House. In 
1834, Silas Greenman came here from Mystic, Conn., to establish a 
shipyard. The earliest vessel of any note to be built along this street was 
the 'Charles Phelps,' a whaling vessel which cost $3250. She sailed on 
her maiden voyage August 29, 1842, and continued whaling operations 
from Stonington, Conn., until the outbreak of the Civil War, when she 
was attached to the North Atlantic squadron as a coal supply vessel and 
stationed off Virginia. In 1865 she was rechristened 'Progress' and 
started in pursuit of whales again, this time from New Bedford. The old 
whaler was sent in 1892 to Chicago, where she was exhibited at the 
World's Fair. Afterward she was stripped and allowed to fall to pieces 
and sink from sight in the mud somewhere on the shores of Lake Michi- 
gan. Earl Greenman of Chicago, a former Westerly boy, the grandson of 
Captain Silas Greenman who built the ship, cut the figurehead from the 
prow and sent it to the Westerly Library, where it is stored on the top 
floor. The old shipyard has given way to a quiet tree-lined street of 
modest residences. 

Continue S. on Margin St. to Greenman Am.; L. on Greenman Ave. to 
Beach St. 

16. Munro, Inc., Greenhouse (open), 55 Beach St., was established in 1882 
by S. J. Reuter, with two houses and 2500 square feet of glass; it was for 

3io Main Street and Village Green 

a time the largest greenhouse in New England. Munro, Inc., took over 
the plant in 1918 and at present the firm has 30 houses from 150 to 500 
feet in length, with 250,000 square feet of glass area. In size it ranks fifth 
in New England and second in Rhode Island. The main crop is roses, but 
at least 17 other varieties of cut flowers and potted plants are raised. 
Shipments are made to near-by Rhode Island cities, also to New York, 
Boston, Albany, Baltimore, and Washington. In winter over a carload 
of coal is used weekly for heating purposes. 

L. from Greenman Ave. on Beach St. to Elm St. 

17. Friends Meeting-House (not open), opp. 58 Elm St., was erected in 
1876. It is a one-story white frame building with a gable roof. The New 
England Yearly Meeting of Friends, organized at Newport in 1661, the 
oldest yearly meeting in the world, meets here annually in September. 
Regular services are held Sundays at 1 1 A.M. 

Continue N. on Elm St. to center. 


1 8. Westerly Railroad Station, Railroad Ave., was completed in 1912. 
It is a low rambling building constructed of granite and stucco-covered 
brick with a red tile roof. Westerly is one of the few stops made by the 
Boston-New York expresses. 

19. Westerly Armory, cor. of Railroad Ave. and Dixon St., was erected in 
1902. The main body of this two-story structure, designed in Norman 
style, is of red brick and white granite. A one-story wing in the rear 
houses a large drill shed. At each corner of the main building is a small 
octagonal tower topped with battlements. The Armory serves as head- 
quarters for the National Guard and an auditorium for social events. An 
older Armory, which stood on Main St., was destroyed by fire in 1899. 

20. White Rock (alt. 20), a mill village about 1.8 miles north of Westerly 
on White Rock Rd., came into existence in 1833, when Christopher R. 
Stafford and others, owners of the old stone mill (1814) in Westerly, were 
granted a charter as the White Rock Manufacturing Company. Perhaps 
the name was derived from some light-colored rock in the river near-by. 
One of the first dams constructed across the Pawcatuck River, probably 
about 1700, was a little below the present village of White Rock and was 
known as Briggs Jefford's Dam. Early in the i8th century the village 
which grew up there was known as Crumb's Neck, so called because a 
portion of land which juts out into the river was owned by Sylvester 
Crumb. In 1849, the proprietors of the White Rock Company built a 
large cotton mill, and also a village of 12 double houses, or 24 identical 
tenements, which stood in a row on the east side of Main St. At this time 
White Rock was considered a model mill village. Literally the entire 
village changed owners in 1875, when Messrs. B. B. & R. Knight of 

Woonsocket 311 

Providence bought the mill and began the manufacture of the cloth 
known as ' Fruit of the Loom.' The firm is managed by the Narragansett 
Finishing Company. In this small village is also the pumping station 
connected with the Westerly town waterworks. 


City: Alt. 122, pop. 49,376, sett. 1666, incorporated 1888. 

Railroad Station: Depot Square, for Providence-Worcester Division of N.Y., 

N.H. & H. R.R. 

Swimming Pools: Y.M.C.A., Cass Park, Edna Dunn Memorial Park (formerly 

Fainnount), Globe Park. 

Annual Events: One opera performance given by a local French Opera Company. 

Accommodations: Four hotels. 

WOONSOCKET, the northern metropolis of Rhode Island and one of 
the leading woolen manufacturing centers of the United States, is situ- 
ated on the Blackstone River. This 8.8 square-mile city contains about 
ninety manufacturing plants making more than fifty different products, 
the most important besides cotton and woolen goods being rubber rolls 
and textile machinery. The shopping center is concentrated on Main 
Street near Flynn Square, which assumes on Saturdays a carnival spirit 
as families from many neighboring villages come in to the city. 

The city is bounded on the north by Massachusetts, and on the west, 
south, and east by Cumberland and North Smithfield. The Blackstone 
River flows in at the northwest corner of the city, executes two bends 
in the shape of a 'W,' is joined at the top of the second loop by the Mill 
and Peters Rivers, and flows out at the southeast corner. The name 
Woonsocket derives from the Indian word Miswosakit, which means 'at 
the very steep hill.' The hill referred to is now called Woonsocket Hill 
and lies in North Smithfield. 

To the visitor the most striking aspect of modern Woonsocket is the 
French character of the city which makes it different from most com- 
munities south of the Canadian border. People of French-Canadian ex- 
traction make up three-quarters of the population. A great many of 
these are bi-lingual, but Fiench is the prevailing tongue. It is heard in 
the streets, shops, mills, and parks. There are French newspapers, French 
' talkies ' in the theaters, and French radio programs. Americanisms are 
often admitted, so that at a baseball game one may sometimes hear 

312 Main Street and Village Green 

such expressions as, 'Frappe un home-run, Joe!' or, 'Attende un base 
on balls ! ' In general, however, the speech of the French has been re- 
markably persistent. 

The first white settlers in this region were Richard and John Arnold, 
sons of Thomas Arnold, a companion in exile of Roger Williams. The 
North Smithfield lands were bought from the Nipmuck Indians by a 
committee from Providence in 1662, the deed being given by Wesauomog, 
' sachem and inhabitant of Miswosakit.' 

In 1666, Richard Arnold built a sawmill on the Blackstone River near 
the present Woonsocket Falls. His house was at the 'Cross Roads' in 
what is now Union Village (see Tour 4). For about thirty years this 
sawmill was the only structure within the present limits of Woonsocket. 
In 1695, John Arnold built a simple, one-and-one-half -story cabin near 
the present intersection of Coe and Providence Streets. It had a large 
stone chimney, and the only access to the attic was a flight of steps 
leading up the outside of the structure. In 1712, he built a larger house 
beside the former. The original cabin has disappeared, but the 1712 
house is standing. 

In 1720, a group of Quakers from the 'Cross Roads' banded together 
and built a forge or 'bloomery' near the falls. They probably secured 
ore from Iron Mine Hill in Cumberland. The establishment operated 
until the early years of the nineteenth century, manufacturing scythes, 
axes, and plowshares for the neighboring farmers. 

The early inhabitants of Woonsocket were of Colonial stock and in the 
agricultural and formative period of the community they instituted the 
first small commercial and industrial ventures. The earliest foreign ele- 
ments began to arrive in response to the growing need for labor in the 
mills. In the early part of the nineteenth century, Irish and English 
immigration was predominant. As the century wore on, labor was re- 
cruited from among the French people of Quebec and Three Rivers. 
These moved in and multiplied so rapidly that they soon outstripped all 
other groups, giving the present character to the city. The French- 
Canadian people are very proud of their racial heritage and tend to 
discourage the loss of its distinctive elements. 

The foundation of Woonsocket's eminence in the textile industry was 
laid in 1810 with the organization of the Social Manufacturing Company. 
Attracted by the success of Samuel Slater's cotton spinning venture in 
Pawtucket (see PAWTUCKET), Ariel, Abner, and Nathan Ballou, Luke 
and Job Jenckes, Eben Bartlett and Joseph Arnold formed the corpora- 
tion. A small frame mill, known locally as 'the pistareen' (a small 
Portuguese coin), was erected on a plot of land adjacent to the Mill 
River. The plant contained two thousand spindles, as well as carding 
and repairing machinery. 

Other cotton mills were soon erected along the Blackstone and its trib- 
utaries. Until 1901 this branch of the textile industry superseded all 
others in Woonsocket. In that year the manufacture of woolen yarns 

Woonsocket 313 

and fabrics outstripped its predecessor. At the present time most cotton 
operations have been suspended. 

Until 1826 Woonsocket's only connection with the outside world was by 
stagecoach and other horse-drawn vehicles. In that year the Blackstone 
Canal (see Transportation) was opened and functioned with moderate 
success until 1848, when it was supplanted by rail connections with 
Providence and Worcester. A contemporary editorial writer objected 
vainly to the laying of the railroad because it would eliminate the revenue 
the town enjoyed in feeding some two hundred horses daily. Rail con- 
nection with Boston was accomplished in 1863. 

The preparation, spinning, and weaving of wool became the second im- 
portant Woonsocket industry in 1840, when Edward Harris erected a 
factory for the manufacture of fancy, all-wool cassimeres. The venture 
was successful, due largely to the use of power carders. In 1860, Harris 
supervised the construction of a woolen factory completed during the 
Civil War and which was regarded as the finest mill of its kind in America. 
The success of Harris stimulated other woolen and worsted enterprises 
until, about 1890, Woonsocket was looked upon as the heart of the woolen 
textile trade in this country. Such was its reputation that several leading 
yarn concerns in France negotiated for the construction of large plants 
in the city. These mills were erected about the close of the century, 
and by 1901 the fabrication of woolen products had taken the leading 
industrial position in this section. 

Machine and tool manufacture, the third chief industry of Woonsocket, 
was an offshoot of the first two. Originally all machine work necessary 
in the textile business was maintained by the industries themselves. As 
the factory system expanded, such operations were no longer feasible, 
and the manufacture of machines and machine parts grew up as a separate 
industry. Several concerns of this kind were established, the most no- 
table being the Woonsocket Machine and Press Company and the Taft 
and Pierce Manufacturing Company, both of which gained international 
distribution for their products. 

Two other firms had their origins in Woonsocket. The present American 
Wringer is the outgrowth of the older Bailey Washing Machine and 
Wringer Company. Selden A. Bailey of Wrentham, Massachusetts, just 
north of Woonsocket, was the inventor of the clothes wringer. The 
Woonsocket Rubber Company operated on a meager basis for many 
years until John F. Holt invented a rubber varnish for boots and shoes. 
This development made the old gum-shoe rubbers obsolete, and Woon- 
socket rubber became known throughout the world. The present United 
States Rubber Company is the successor of the earlier firm. 

Special sections of the city have acquired distinctive names. The Globe 
and the Hamlet derive from two small villages which were at one time 
part of the general community of Woonsocket. The Social, Privilege, 
and Bernon sections have acquired their names from early mills and the 
community houses which surrounded them. These sections are referred 

314 Main Street and Village Green 

to as 'The Privilege,' 'The Bernon,' and so on. The Social district has 
the most intensely French aspect, while the industrial section, with more 
than twenty-five plants engaged in the manufacture of woolen products, 
is most representative of the city. 

The first church in this district was a Quaker meeting-house at the 
'Cross Roads' (see Tour 4). Between 1830 and 1840 several Protestant 
societies were organized and built churches within the present limits of 
the city. French-Canadian immigration stimulated the growth of the 
Roman Catholic congregation, and today there are several large churches 
in the city where services are given in French. Nearly one-half of the 
children of the city attend parochial schools, of which there are nine of 
elementary and two of 'high school rank. The public school system in- 
cludes eighteen elementary schools and one high school. 

Woonsocket did not attain corporate identity until the last quarter of 
the nineteenth century. Prior to that time it lay within the agricultural 
towns of Cumberland and North Smithfield. Each was reluctant to 
forego the tax revenues of the thriving textile center that had developed 
along their northern boundaries. Local agitation was finally successful, 
and the General Assembly divorced Woonsocket from Cumberland in 
1867 and from North Smithfield in 1871. The city was incorporated in 

TOUR 1.5 m. 

W. from corner of Park Ave. on Carnngton Ave. 

1. Church of the Precious Blood (Precieux Sang; French R.C.), NE. cor. 
of Park and Carrington Aves., a red-brick, gable-roofed structure of 
Victorian Gothic design, with a buttressed and pinnacled tower rising 
from the left front corner, was dedicated in July, 1880, after the design 
of W. F. Fontaine and Sons of Woonsocket. The belfry, with openings 
on each of its four sides, is surmounted by a small octagonal clock-tower 
which in turn is topped with a small ribbed dome. On the front facade 
with its spotty white trim is a slightly projecting gable over the paneled 
entrance door, and a small rose window is placed in the gable end above 
the two stained-glass windows of the second story. The vaulted ceiling 
and stained-glass windows of the interior provide an appropriate setting 
for religious services. 

2. Jesus Marie Convent, SW. cor. Park and Carrington Aves., houses an 
order that was founded in connection with the Precious Blood Church 
in 1874, by the Religieuses de Jesus Marie. Ten years later, land was 
purchased across from the church, and construction of a convent begun. 
The first mass was celebrated in 1885. This three- and four-story struc- 
ture was completed in 1889; two additions were dedicated in 1927. 
In the chapel of Gothic design are side stalls for the Sisters, while pews 
for other attendants are in the center. 


3. St. James Episcopal Church (1833), cor. Carrington and Hamlet Aves., 
is a large frame structure, of little architectural distinction, which has 
been much enlarged and remodeled since its first erection. The parish 
was organized in April, 1832; the first rector, Dr. Crocker, used to walk 
from Providence, 16 m. distant, to hold services in Woonsocket. During 
the Dorr War of 1842 (see History), soldiers were quartered in the church. 

L. from Carrington Ave. on Front St. 

4. Courthouse (1896) (open 9-5 weekdays; Sat. 9-12), Court Square, facing 
Court St. Bridge, a two-story granite building, houses the i2th District 
Court on the first floor, while the second floor is used by the Superior 
C9urt for its quarterly circuit. In the square in front of the building 
is 'a bronze Statue (1925), mounted on a rough boulder, erected in honor 
of Woonsocket men who fought in the war with Spain and the Philippine 
Insurrection (1898-1902). Designed by Allen Newman of New York, it 
represents an American soldier hiking along with a devil-may-care atti- 

R. across Court St. Bridge to Depot Square; L. at Depot Square on Main St. 

5. City Hall and Harris Institute Library (City Hall open 9-5 weekdays; 
Sat. 9-12: Library open weekdays 12.30-8.30, Sat. 12 noon-9), 157 Main 
St., a four-story granite building, is in the center of the business district. 
It was originally founded (1856) as the Harris Institute by Edward Harris, 
a prominent woolen manufacturer of the i9th century. Abraham Lincoln 
spoke here during his first Presidential campaign. The building was taken 
over by the city to serve as an administrative center. It houses the city's 
only public library, which has about 37,000 books, 1600 being in French. 
Yearly circulation varies between 190,000 and 200,000. The library has 
substantially complete files of the Woonsocket Weekly and Daily Patriot. 
Portraits of the founder, Edward Harris, and of an early trustee, Samuel 
Foss, are in the main reading-room. 

From the Main St. bridge over the Blackstone River, Woonsocket Falls 
(R) can be seen, and the landscape of the center of the city (L). 

6. Globe Congregational Church (1900), cor. S. Main and Providence 
Sts., a brick structure with granite trim, houses a parish that was organ- 
ized in December, 1834. 

L. from S. Main St. on Providence St. 

7. John Arnold House (1712) (private), NW. cor. Coe and Providence 
Sts., marks the site of the first house in Woonsocket built by John Arnold 
in 1695. This larger house was built by Arnold alongside of the former. 
So many alterations have been made since its original erection that prob- 
ably nothing but rafters and beams remain from the early structure. 
In a ceiling rafter is carved the date 1712. 

8. Willing Vose House (private), NE. cor. Providence and E. Orchard 
Sts., looks much older than the renovated John Arnold House, but is 
actually of later date, although the year of its construction is not known. 
The house is a long two-story clapboarded structure, with two chimneys 

316 Main Street and Village Green 

rising from the gable roof. It has been made into two separate tenements, 
owned by different landlords, and the discrepancy in the care of the two 
halves gives the house a curious appearance. The house was at one time 
the principal dwelling on the Vose Farm, and in the rear, enclosed by a 
wire fence, is the old Vose private burial ground. In this cemetery lie the 
remains of John Arnold, first white settler in Woonsocket. 


9. St. Charks' Church (R.C.), cor. N. Main and Daniel Sts., is the mother 
parish of the Roman Catholic congregation in northern Rhode Island. 
The first church in this area was built on this site in 1844, a small wooden 
structure that burned in 1868. In the same year, the present building was 
erected. Many changes have been made in its structure since that time. 
The building is of granite in Gothic perpendicular style. The main 
entrance, approached by granite steps, consists of a paneled door recessed 
into an arched opening. At the corner of the church is a square tower 
rising well above the church proper. Within this tower are musical chimes. 
The stained-glass windows over the choir loft were designed by Joseph 
Gardiner Reynolds, Jr., formerly of Wickford. The architect was P. C. 
Keeley, who designed the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence. 

10. St. Anne's Church (R.C.), 122 Cumberland St., originally an offshoot 
of the Precieux Sang Parish, is itself the mother church of three other 
churches in the predominantly French Social district. It was dedicated 
in 1891. The architects were W. F. Fontaine and Sons of Woonsocket. 
The church, a large buff-colored stone structure with both Romanesque 
and Renaissance architectural features, is rectangular in plan, with two 
high towers at the front corners. These towers have large openings at the 
top, and are surmounted by classic cornices supported by columns. The 
towers are surmounted by cupolas with arched openings and pointed 
domes. The front facade with its portico, pedimented door, large arched 
window over the entrance, and its parapet along the gable end, appears 
impressive below the soaring corner towers. 

11. Holy Family Church (Sainte Famille, French R.C.), 414-420 S. Main 
St., is a structure of brick with white trim. Romanesque in design, it 
is rectangular in plan and has a large well-proportioned arcaded porch; 
the three white trimmed arches of the porch are flanked by columns and 
lead to the entrance doors. Surmounting the entrance porch and some- 
what overpowering in scale is a tower of two stages The first stage, rising 
to the level of the roof ridge, is square in plan and has tall arched windows 
on three sides; the upper stage of the tower has corner turrets and a 
louvered arched opening on each side of the belfry. Terminating the whole 
is a dormered spire topped with a cross. 

12. First Baptist Church, 298 Blackstone St., a large brick edifice with 
a square clock-tower, is the only Baptist church in the city. The Baptists 

Woonsocket 317 

organized at a meeting held in May, 1833, at the home of Philip Bryant, 
now the site of the Globe Congregational Church. Previous to that 
preaching services were held in the Ballou School and the first prayer was 
held at the home of Mrs. Eliza Voss. 

Incorporated under the name of the Woonsocket Falls Baptist Church, 
the first church was located on what is now High St., but was then called 
Baptist Hill. Forest stumps stood like sentinels around it. The literary 
exercises of the first observance of the Fourth of July took place in this 
meeting-house in 1833. About ten years later, the members who embraced 
Millerism (advocates of the sudden coming of the Day of Judgment) 
were excluded from the church because they sat on house-tops, robed in 
white, waiting to be taken to heaven. 

The Rev. Frederick Denison, who resigned as minister in December, 1875, 
after serving 18 months, wrote in his diary: 'Closed my labors at the 
Woonsocket Church today. Hard church in hard place. Want of intel- 
lectuality and character. Have always misused ministers. Name in bad 
repute far and wide. Finis.' The cornerstone of the present church, the 
third, was laid in 1891. In 1911, the church and society were incorporated 
under the name of the First Baptist Church of Woonsocket. 

Woonsocket has also, in addition to several other Catholic churches 
than those mentioned above, a Methodist Episcopal Church (Federal St.), 
a Universalist Church (cor. Snow and Carle Sts.), a Polish church, St. 
Stanislas (cor. Harris Ave. and Blackstone St.), and a Ukranian Orthodox 
church, St. Michael's (Blackstone St. near Harris Ave.). 

13. Cold Spring Park, between Harris Ave. and Blackstone River, is a 
25-acre park along the shore of the river offering opportunities for relaxa- 
tion and scenic enjoyment. The plot is laid out with walks and settees, 
and is planted with grass and trees. It derives its name from a spring of 
clear water where near-by residents come for refreshment in preference 
to the city water supply. The spring has been confined within a tower-like 
structure of cobblestones. 

14. Edna Dunn Park, Asylum St., in the western, or Fairmount section 
of the city, is named in memory of a nurse who died in service during the 
World War. It contains a baseball diamond and other sporting facilities. 

15. Globe Park, Smithfield Rd. between Providence and Coe Sts., a 31- 
acre park on the southern boundary of Woonsocket, has swings, slides, 
and other juvenile recreational facilities. There is also a dammed-up 
pond for swimming in summer and skating in winter. 

1 6. Barry Memorial Field, Smithfield Rd. between Providence St. and 
Park Ave., is a 22-acre athletic field that was taken over by the city about 
1925. Baseball, football, tennis, and track facilities, as well as a club- 
house, are maintained. The area is named in memory of Dr. William 
Barry, a physician who, before his death, was an enthusiastic supporter 
of local athletics. This area was formerly called Agricultural Park, a name 
that harks back to the founding, in 1867, of an association for the promo- 

31 B Main Street and Village Green 

tion of annual fairs and race meetings. It served this purpose for many 
years, and was then, as now, a popular resort for the local citizens. 

17. Central Park, Cass Ave., comprises about 45 acres devoted to chil- 
dren's amusements. A swimming pool is provided, as well as a pond for 
skating. The area is convenient for the many French children of the 
Social district. 


TOUR 1 : From MASSACHUSETTS LINE (North Attteboro) 
to CONNECTICUT LINE (New London), 60 m., US 1. 

Via Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, Narragansett Pier, Westerly 
Good hard-surfaced road, mostly three- and four-lane. 

Tourist accommodations of all kinds in Providence; limited accommodations 

State Police Barracks at Wickford (Phone, Wickford 12). 
Shore Line of the N.Y., N.H. & H. R.R. parallels this route. 

RHODE ISLAND 'towns' would in most other parts of the Union be 
called ' townships ' ; either term designates an area incorporated as a unit of 
local government, whether containing one center of population or several. 
In Rhode Island the towns vary in area from about 6 square miles to more 
than 60. The town hall may be situated in the largest center of popula- 
tion, or it may be located in an open countryside where originally placed 
for reasons that are now past history. Some towns (i.e., townships) con- 
tain a population center, or village, that bears the same name as the town, 
and some do not. In the town of Burrillville, for example, there is no 
village of the same name, the town hall being located in Harrisville. 
Westerly, on the other hand, is both the name of a town and of its chief 
village. For the convenience of visitors from outside New England we 
have, in our Tour descriptions, often violated local tradition by calling the 
towns townships. 

US 1, the most traveled though not the shortest route between Boston, 
Massachusetts, and New London, Connecticut, enters Rhode Island in an 
industrial and commercial area. It passes through Providence, the capital 
city, and its thickly populated environs of Pawtucket and Cranston. 
South of the latter city the route passes through a less densely settled sec- 
tion of the State, through the coastal townships of Warwick, East Green- 
wich, Narragansett, and the Kingstowns which are rich in historic sites. 
The road in many places affords pleasant views of a prosperous farming 
country and of the waters of Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. 

US 1 crosses the Rhode Island Line 40 m. south of Boston, Massachu- 
setts, and runs for about three miles through the eastern section of Paw- 

PAWTUCKET, 1.5 m. (alt. 25, pop. 77,149, sett. 1671, incorp. 1885), textile and 
machinery manufacturing city (see PAWTUCKET). 

Points of Interest: Old Slater Mill; Oliver Starkweather House; Old Pidge Tavern; 
Daggett House; Narragansett Race Track. 

Unfortunately US 1 by-passes many of the historic sites of this old city to 
run on Broadway past small stores and tenements. 

At 1.7 m. is the Division Street Bridge over the Pawtucket River, which 
once provided water-power for the Slater cotton mill and other early tex- 

322 High Roads and Low Roads 

tile factories. At the west end of the bridge, the road bears left onto Paw- 
tucket Ave., where is the Pidge Tavern, 3.1 m. (L), said to be the oldest 
house in Rhode Island. The right end of this substantial two-and-one- 
half-story building faces the street. 

At 3.2 m. is the Pawtucket-Providence boundary line. 

PROVIDENCE, 5.7 m. (alt. 12, pop. 252,981), State capital, jewelry manufacturing 
center, seaport (see PROVIDENCE). 

Points of Interest: State House; Brown University; Rhode Island School of Design 
(arts and crafts) ; and many historic and architecturally important houses. 

Other Tours leading out of Providence, see Tours 2, 4, 4A, 4C, 10, and 11. 

The city, second largest in New England, is entered from the north on 
Main Street, once an Indian trail. Opposite the old Jeremiah Dexter 
House, 957 N. Main St., is the North Burial Ground, originally set aside 
in 1700 for a 'training field, burying ground, and other public uses.' 
Many famous Rhode Islanders are interred here. 

Leaving N. Main St. at 4.3 m. on Smith St. (US 44, see Tour 11), the high- 
way twists deviously through a number of side streets lying a short dis- 
tance west of the center of the city. From State St., beside the main line 
of the railroad (L), can be seen St. Patrick's Church (R), the State Office 
Building and State House (R). The latter, first occupied in 1901, is a long 
marble building designed in classic style. On Gaspee St., just west of the 
State House, is the Rhode Island College of Education (R) . Gaspee St. 
crosses the Woonasquatucket River and passes underneath the railroad 
tracks leading to the Union Station (L), in order to reach Exchange 
Place, in the center of the city. 

Thence by Fountain St. US 1 passes the rear of the Public Library, veers 
(L) into Franklin St., crossing Westminster St. (US 6, see Tour 10), on 
which is Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral (L), the administrative center of 
the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rhode Island. 

At 6.9 m. is a junction with Elm wood Ave., at which stands Grace Church 
Cemetery (L). US 1 bears right on Elm wood Ave. to pass the Elmwood 
Public Library (R), 275 Elmwood Ave., and Locust Grove Cemetery (L). 

At the junction with Reservoir Ave., 8 m. (State 3, see Tour 2), is a bronze 
Statue of Columbus (R), modeled by Bartholdi, the sculptor of New 
York's Statue of Liberty, and originally cast in silver for the 1893 World's 
Fair in Chicago. 

At 8.8 m. is an entrance to beautiful Roger Williams Park (L), a recrea- 
tional development containing lakes, gardens, shady drives, tennis courts, 
a zoo, and the Benedict Memorial to Music. 

At 9.6 m., the intersection of Elmwood (US 1) and Park Aves., is the 
Providence-Cranston boundary line. US 1 runs for about 1 m. through the 
eastern outskirts of Cranston (see Tour 2), an industrial city famous for 
its textile and wire mills. 

Left on Park Ave. 1.3 m. to the junction with Broad St. 

Left 0.2 m. from Park Ave. is the William H. Hall Memorial Library (open), 1825 

From North Attleboro to New London 323 

Broad St., the largest of six public libraries in the city. It is a three-story granite 
structure (1927), with attractively landscaped grounds. It was named for the 
donor of funds for its erection, William H. Hall, a 19th-century town official and 
member of the State Legislature. 

Right on Broad St. to the picturesque little village of PAWTUXET, 2 m. (Cranston 
City), built around the edge of Pawtuxet Cove, the mouth of the Pawtuxet River. 
For the last three miles of its length the Pawtuxet River, which forms the boundary 
line between Cranston and Warwick, winds in and out past fern-lined banks and 
birch groves. The Cove itself is crowded with boats of all sizes (boats with fishing 
equipment for charter from docks at foot of Aborn St.). In the early igth century the 
village of Pawtuxet was the home of several whaling captains. 

In the village of Pawtuxet are many opportunities for recreation; among the out- 
standing centers is Rhodes on the Pawtuxet (open), near the south end of Broad St. 
This i4-acre development was begun by Thomas H. Rhodes in 1872, as a site for 
clambakes. Other facilities have been added so that the institution, now controlled 
by a corporation, can care for several thousand persons at one time. The center of 
attraction is a huge casino with two large dance floors, and an annex for small 
private parties. Opposite the main entrance to the casino is a large mural of a 
Venetian fishing fleet by H. Anthony Dyer of Providence. Three private canoe 
clubs have quarters here. (Canoes and rowboats for hire 25 per hour.) 

Adjoining Rhodes on the west is the Pawtuxet River Reservation, a State park; on 
the eastern edge of the village are two smaller State parks offering bathing facili- 
ties Edgewood Beach of about 10 acres, and Stillhouse Cove Reservation. 

The Edgewood Yacht Club (private), foot of Shaw Ave., was founded in 1908. It 
is very active socially as well as nautically. An annual cruise is held July 4, from 
the club anchorage to Portsmouth. 'Snipe' races for 1 6-foot boats are held each 
autumn, the winner being given possession of the trophy for a year. The first trophy 
for this race was donated by Henry Ford in 1910. 

Rhode Island Yacht Club (private), foot of Ocean Ave., founded 1882, is the oldest 
yacht club in the State. Weekly races for small craft are held in summer. About 
125 boats of various sizes fly the club flag. The two largest are the ' Felicia,' 148- 
foot twin-screw yacht, owned by a former commodore of the club, Jesse H. Met- 
calf (U.S. Senator 1924-36) ; and the ' Paragon,' formerly owned by the late Charles 
Davol of the Davol Rubber Co., Providence. 

At 52 Fort Ave. is the Site of Revolutionary Fort, erected in 1775 to protect lower 
Providence harbor; it was manned by the Pawtuxet Rangers. 

On the south side of the Pawtuxet Bridge is a section of the village of Pawtuxet 
that lies in the city of Warwick. At 26 Main St. is the Bank Cafe, a three-story 
yellow brick building that was used as a bank about 1800. The present owner, Mr. 
Waiter Arnold, gladly displays to curious visitors a collection of old notes, checks, 
and scrip money. Mr. Arnold also has lottery tickets issued in 1761 to raise money 
for paving the streets of Providence; and others issued later for building the 
Crawford Street Bridge, and repairing the Congregational meeting-house. The 
vault is used to store wines and liquors. 

South on the Narragansett Parkway, at 3.3 m. (L) is Gaspee Point, formerly 
Namquit Point, where the British revenue sloop ' Gaspee' ran aground June 9, 1772, 
and was that night burned by a group of Providence patriots who rowed down to 
the stranded vessel. Overlooked by high bluffs that are dotted by tents and cot- 
tages, Gaspee Point offers over a mile of sandy beach favorable for bathing. In 
mid-stream, Bullocks Point Light stands out against the background formed by 
the opposite shore. In a northeasterly direction are seen protruding piers at 
Riverside and Crescent Park, while farther north are the tanks and docked tankers 
of the Standard Oil Co. In the southeast the now abandoned Nayatt Light stands 
at the entrance to Barrington River, opposite the long low line of Conimicut Point. 
The web-like structure of the Mount Hope Bridge crosses the skyline far to the 

324 High Roads and Low Roads 

At 3.8 m. the Narragansett Parkway becomes Spring Green Ave.; at 4.4 m. left 
on Warwick Ave. 

The Site of Camp Ames, 4.9 m. (L) indicated by a bronze tablet, was the camping 
ground of the Third Rhode Island Volunteers previous to their departure for the 
Civil War, in September, 1861. 

At 5.1 m. on Warwick Ave. is the junction with a side road that leads 0.2 m. left 
to the Governor Francis House (1708), a large yellow frame structure with green- 
and-white trim. The building, fronting on Narragansett Bay, is surmounted by 
a roof railing, or imitation 'captain's walk' of modern construction. The spacious 
dimensions of the original structure can still be noted despite additions, particularly 
to the rear ell, which itself appears to be a composite of an old section and a newer 
one. A relic on the farm is a coach purchased by Governor Francis in 1781; it is 
the coach used by George Washington during a sojourn in Providence. 

HOXSIE, 5.3 m. (Warwick city), is a residential community of one-family homes, 
most of which have ample grounds. The uncrowded conditions enable home- 
owners to have flower and vegetable gardens, and to keep flocks of chickens. 
Warwick Pond, a little south of the village center, affords fishing and boating. On 
the shore of the pond is the Lakeside Preventorium, conducted by the Providence 
Tuberculosis League, with beds for 56 child patients. 

At the foot of Rock Ave. near the village center is Mark Rock, a ledge of many 
fragments with surface markings. Some of the latter are said to have been made 
by the Indians. Decomposition is rapidly obliterating the inscriptions. 

Near the northern edge of the village is the Site of the Major Job Greene Homestead. 
Here formerly stood a ten-room structure that was the birthplace of Colonel 
Christopher Greene, the gallant Revolutionary soldier who was killed in a night 
attack at Points Bridge on the Croton River in New York in May, 1781. A grave 
in the small family cemetery on this estate is marked, ' Here lies the bodie of Sara 
Tefft, interred 1642, age 67.' 

In the southern part of Cranston US 1 traverses a fairly open countryside, 
dotted here and there with large factories manufacturing wire goods, 
textile machinery, and fire extinguishers. 

At 10.6 m. is the Cranston- Warwick boundary line. The 4 2 -square-mile 
city of Warwick has no metropolitan center; within its limits are more 
than a dozen villages separated by large tracts of woodland and open 
fields. At 11.5 m. US 1 bears right on the old Boston Post Road, the 
route between New York and Boston, which has been heavily traveled 
since Colonial days. In this flat and sparsely forested section is the State 
Airport, 12.9 m. (L), opened in the spring of 1936. 

In the village of HILLSGROVE, 13.2 m. (Warwick City, alt. 49), are 
malleable iron works and a large brewing company. Rows of tenements 
and two-family houses testify to an active industrial life. 

South of Greenwood Bridge, 14.5 m., is the attractive residential village of 
GREENWOOD (Warwick City, alt. 50). 

At 15.1 m. on the outskirts of Apponaug, Gorton Pond (R) provides good 
fresh-water fishing and bathing. On the sandy plains around Apponaug 
are trailing blackberries and a little wild indigo. 

At William's Corner, 15.3 m., is the intersection with Apponaug Rd., 
State 117; US 1 bears right onto Main St. of Apponaug, the administra- 
tive center of the city of Warwick. (For city history see WARWICK.) 
Left at the intersection on State 117 is the historic east coast of Warwick. 

From North Attleboro to New London 325 

At 1.2 m. is the junction with Buttonwoods Ave.; right 0.9 m. on this avenue is the 
James Fones Greene Homestead (about 1715), a two-story frame house with gable 
roof and two flat-roofed ells. At one time the large Greene estate, on which the 
first house, now gone, was built in 1687, included all the land south of this point 
to the shore. A large part was sold in 1868 to an association that developed the 
present community of BUTTONWOODS, 1.5 m,, where are many well-kept sum- 
mer homes, and a camp ground for vacationists. 

On State 117 at 2.4 m. is (L) the entrance to Sandy Beach on Little Pond (bathing; 
small parking fee}. 

At 2.9 m. is the junction with Oakland Beach Ave.; right here 1 m. to Oakland 
Beach on the shore of Greenwich Bay. Once a famous resort, this village retains 
but a trace of its former smartness; the old summer homes have been made into 
permanent residences, and small cottages and stores have been wedged in at 

At the corner of Chiswick Rd., 3.4 m. (R), is the much-remodeled Daniel Arnold 
Tavern (1769) a two-story, shingled, gable-roofed structure. Two porches have 
been added; the small front porch, with side seats, gives access to a window instead 
of a door. In the second story are two dormer windows. When a company of 
American soldiers under Colonel Barton captured the British General Prescott in 
Portsmouth, in July, 1777 (see Tour 5), the expedition began at Warwick Neck, 
went to and returned from Portsmouth in boats, and quartered the captured 
general in this tavern for a night. This house, similar to several others in southern 
Rhode Island, shows the influence of the Connecticut style of i&th -century farm- 
house architecture. 

At 3.6 m. is the junction with Warwick Neck Ave. The Centennial Elm (L) at this 
corner was planted in 1876; it was taken from the Governor Francis Farm. 

Right 0.5 m. on Warwick Neck Ave. to the Site of the Samuel Gorton House (L), 
marked by a boulder. Gorton was the founder of Warwick in 1643. 

At 1.9 m. on Warwick Neck Ave. is the intersection with Narragansett Ave., on 
which is (R) Warwick Country Club, which offers to a restricted membership a large 
clubhouse, golf links, tennis courts, and boating facilities. In this vicinity, near 
Tiffany Ave., is the Site of Pomham Fort. Pomham, subordinate sachem of the 
Narragansetts, who had submitted to the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, applied 
to that Colony for protection from the early settlers of Shawomet. An officer 
and ten men were sent from Massachusetts in response to this entreaty to assist 
in the building of a fort at this point. On the shore of Warwick Cove, it commanded 
the entrance to the cove while an almost impenetrable marshy thicket protected it 
from the rear. At the southern tip of the peninsula, 2.5 m., is the Warwick Neck 

East of the junction with Warwick Neck Ave. State 117 becomes West Shore Rd. 
The part of the present city around this intersection is referred to as Old Warwick. 
Near the corner of West Shore Rd. and Church Ave., 4.4 m., is Buckets Brook, 
formerly known as Warner's Brook. The Site of the House of John Warner, named 
as the first town clerk of Warwick in 1647, has been indicated on its banks by the 
Warwick Historical Society. The burial place of Ezekiel Holliman, who baptized 
Roger Williams (see History), is a short distance from the Warner marker. A short 
distance right is the village of CONIMICUT, one of the more compact settle- 
ments of Warwick. In past years it was a summer resort only, but temporary 
residences have given way to substantial and permanently occupied homes. 

On West Shore Rd. at 4.7 m. is the Peter Greene House, or Old Gate House (R), 
built in 1751, the second oldest house now standing in the Old Warwick section of 
the city. The appellation ' Gate ' as applied to the house has been traced back to 
a fence once enclosing Conimicut Point, then used as a cow pasture, which had 
a gate near this structure. It is a two-story frame building with unpainted shingle 
siding and a gable roof. The essential features of this house central chimney, 
central doorway, and symmetrical window arrangement have been preserved, 
but the door, window-panes, and side porch on the rear ell are of later date than 
the main house. 

326 High Roads and Low Roads 

APPONAUG, 15.7 m. (alt. 20), is also the shopping center for the ex- 
tensive area comprised in Warwick city; stores, markets, and public 
buildings line US 1 on Main Street. 

The Armory of the Kentish Artillery (R) on Main St., is a red-brick build- 
ing with turrets. The Kentish Artillery, chartered in 1797, was founded 
during the Revolution; first known as the Kentish Light Infantry, the 
company assumed its present name in 1804. General Nathanael Greene 
was once a member of this organization. 

Near the Armory is the Warwick City Hall (R), a vine-covered red-brick 
building, with clock- tower, built in 1835. 

On Centerville Rd. a little west of the village center is the Apponaug 
Company, a textile bleaching and printing mill with over 500 employees. 

Drum Rock, in a field at the end of Drum Rock Rd., is a huge boulder 
weighing about two and one-half tons. By rocking this boulder on its 
base the Indians made a drumming sound that was used as a signal in 
case of trouble. 

In the center of Apponaug, US 1 bears left and passes through the attrac- 
tive residential village of COWESETT, 17 m. (Warwick City, alt. 20). 
The large estates on the ridge (R) command an extensive view of East 
Greenwich Bay (L). 

At 18.3 m. is the Warwick-East Greenwich boundary line. 

EAST GREENWICH, 18.5 m. (alt. 40, township pop. 3666), is a village 
that is the center of the township of the same name. The latter, incorpo- 
rated 1677, was a P art of Providence County until Kent County was 
formed in 1750. Many of the first settlers were veterans of King Philip's 
War. In pre-Revolutionary days the community produced pottery of 
coarse red clay dug from the near-by vicinity of Quidnesset and fired in 
local kilns. The resulting product was of inferior grade, but pride in local 
industry gave it preference over English pottery. At the present time East 
Greenwich manufactures textiles and textile machinery, and ships tons 
of Rhode Island shellfish to the States. Though much of the township 
land is stony, truck gardens cover the more fertile acres. 

In the village, which is built on the side of a long hill (R) facing Green- 
wich Bay, are many early American houses. On the southeast corner of 
Division and Pierce Sts., is the Captain John Congdon House (1711), a 
two-story frame structure with a gambrel roof. On the southwest corner 
of the same intersection is the Eldredge House, a large white frame house 
(about 1757). This house was bought in 1788 by Nathan Greene, who 
opened the first tannery in town. West is the Saltpetre Lot (L), where 
Richard Mathewson and Earl Mowry manufactured gunpowder for the 
Continental Army. 

Windmill Cottage (L), at Division and West Sts., is so called because of 
the four-story hexagonal windmill attached to its west side. This house 
(about 1818) was bought in 1866 by the poet, Henry Wadsworth Long- 
fellow, for his friend, George Washington Greene, diplomat, historian, 

From North Attleboro to New London 327 

and professor. This Dr. Greene was a grandson of General Nathanael 
Greene of Revolutionary fame. 

Nearly opposite Windmill Cottage on the Warwick side of Division St. 
is (R) the Governor William Greene Homestead, or Samuel Gorton Jr. 
House (about 1680), a fine substantial frame structure two and one-half 
stories high, with a gable roof. The 1680 structure was evidently the 
west end of the present house; it was built as a three- windowed house 
with doorway and pilastered stone chimney on the right. The placing 
of a single chimney at one end of a house, instead of the middle, was a 
characteristic of early Rhode Island architecture (see Eleazer Arnold 
House, Tour 4 A). The ell on the north side of the house has a beautiful 
pedimented doorway, with tracery and other decoration. William Greene 
was governor of the State from 1778 to 1786. It was in this house that 
Nathanael Greene met and married Catherine Littlefield in 1774. The 
future general was remarkably fond of dancing with his fiancee, ' notwith- 
standing his father's [a Quaker] efforts to whip him out of such idle 
propensities.' The Greene house is the outstanding Colonial relic in this 
part of the State. 

At the junction of Division St. and Rowland Rd. a marker states that 
in September, 1774, a Tory mob gathered to destroy the village of East 
Greenwich. On Howland Rd. is the Daniel Howland House (1677), a 
typical small New England farmhouse. 

On Main St. (L) near the town boundary line is the Varnum Memorial 
Armory (1914) erected in honor of General James Mitchell Varnum. This 
brick building, having a castellated roof, holds interesting historical 
relics in its museum. 

In this same closely built section is another Greene House, 86 Main St. 
(L), a two-story frame building (1724). In the addition on the north end 
was located (1804) the first bank in East Greenwich. Albert C. Greene, 
U.S. Senator (1845-51), once lived here. 

On Pierce St. near the First Baptist Church is the General Varnum House 
(1773), a handsome, square, two-story frame house with nearly flat roof. 
The front door opens onto a small porch, its roof supported by Ionic 
columns. The interior woodwork is so fine that the northeast parlor was 
copied by Stanford White for the Women's Building of the Jamestown 
Exposition. Varnum was the first Colonel of the Kentish Guards, formed 
during the Revolution. Later he was Brigadier General in the Con- 
tinental Army and judge for the Northwest Territory. Washington, 
Lafayette, and Thomas Paine were guests in this old mansion. 

Near-by is the Armory of the Kentish Guards, a small frame structure 
with Doric pillars framing the central doorway. In the summer of 1774, 
56 citizens of Kent County met to establish a military company. At the 
October session of the General Assembly they were granted the right to 
incorporate as an independent company under the name of the Kentish 
Guards. The company was, and still is, subject only to the orders of the 
State Governor. 

328 High Roads and Low Roads 

Opposite the Armory is the East Greenwich Academy, a private co-educa- 
tional school, founded in 1802 and first known as Kent Academy. In 
1841, it was sold to the Providence Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church. Dr. Eben Tourjee, who founded the New England Conservatory 
of Music in Boston, established the music department of this school. The 
original Academy building was moved to Spring St. and is now occupied 
by the East Greenwich Historical Society. 

Also on Pierce St. is the Friends Meeting-House (about 1804) where the 
many Friends in this section, among them the prominent Greene family, 
gathered. Since the Quaker sect has nearly died out in this neighborhood, 
the old church is seldom opened except on Quarterly Meeting Day when 
members gather from all over the State to transact the business of the 

Another historic building is the Captain Thomas Arnold House (about 
1735), 28 King St., where lived the first Federal Collector of Customs for 
the Port of East Greenwich. At the foot of this short street is the Second 
Kent County Jail, built in 1804 and still in use, though much enlarged. 
Over the door of the old house formerly stood two painted wooden figures, 
chained together, one of a white man, the other of a Negro. They signified 
that justice would be meted impartially to black and white alike. These 
figures are now in possession of the Rhode Island Historical Society. On 
a hill at the end of Wine St., near King St., is the Old Baptist Burial 
Ground, dating back to 1729. 

On the corner of Main and Court Sts. is the Kent County Court House (R) 
constructed in 1750. This rectangular, three-and-one-half-story frame 
structure with its square tower is Georgian in character. Here the Con- 
vention for the framing of the Rhode Island Constitution met in Septem- 
ber, 1842. The exterior of this beautiful Colonial building has remained 
unchanged, but the interior has been entirely remodeled. In the early 
days the courtyard had on one side of its walk a liberty pole and on the 
other side the pillory or whipping post. The Eldredge Memorial Fountain 
now stands in the courtyard where once was the town pump and horse 
trough. At the end of Court St. is the Dr. Peter Turner House (about 
1774), fyome of a Revolutionary army surgeon. 

Diagonally across Main St. from the Court House is the Greenwich Inn 
(L) on the site of the Colonel William Arnold Tavern (1770), later called 
the Updike Tavern. Abraham Lincoln stopped here overnight in 1860. 
The old tavern, scene of the organization of the Kentish Guards, was 
razed in 1896 to make way for the present hotel known as the Greenwich 

A few yards south of the Inn is the Methodist Church (L) (1833). In 1850 
the old church became too small for the growing congregation. Accord- 
ingly the church was cut in two, the sections moved apart to make way 
for a new central section. In this meeting house on November 5, 1842, the 
Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 
was adopted. 

From North Attleboro to New London 329 

At 1 01 Marlborough St. stands an old three-story frame structure on 
a stone foundation, the first Kent County Jail (1780). Now a dwelling 
house, it still contains in the cellar two of the original prison cells. 

The East Greenwich Fire Engine Company (L), a short distance south on 
Main St., was chartered in 1797. Near-by is the Old Brick House (L), the 
first brick house to be built (1767) in East Greenwich. 

At 19.4 m., near the southern edge of the village of East Greenwich, is 
the junction with Forge Rd., which leads to the peninsula of POTOWO- 
MUT, a part of Warwick, though separated from the rest of that city by 
East Greenwich. It is said that the residents of Potowomut peninsula, a 
charming spot with its tree-shaded lanes, realize they belong to Warwick 
only when their annual tax bills arrive. Fire protection for the area 
once provided a continual topic of controversy. 

Left on Forge Rd., 0.2. m., is (L) a spring on a trail frequently taken by Roger 
Williams, founder of the Colony. He named it Elizabeth Spring for the wife of his 
friend John Winthrop, Jr. After Mrs. Winthrop's death, some time previous to 
1675, Williams wrote to Winthrop of his stopping at this place on a trip to the 
Narragansett country, saying: 'Here is the spring, I say with a sigh, but where is 
Elizabeth? My charity answers, " She is gone to the Eternal Spring and Fountain 
of Living Waters.'" A small marker at the bottom of a path descending from 
Forge Rd. bears the spring's name and the date 1645. At present the spring is dry. 

At the end of Forge Rd., about 1 m., is the Site of an Old Forge, and the Nathanael 
Greene Birthplace. A granite monument near the shore of the Potowomut River 
marks the location of the old forge and blacksmith shop, which belonged to the 
Greene family. The birthplace of Nathanael Greene, brilliant Revolutionary 
General, is high on a hillside above the Forge site. This large white frame house 
(1684) suffered from remodeling in several styles of architecture. Nine generations 
of the Greene family have lived here. Massive specimens of the anchors made at 
the Greene forge are in the yard. One anchor is held fast in a tree which has grown 
around it. 

On Ives St., wh